Vacation Friends 2 (2023) Review – Leaves a lot to be desired but still hits the funny bone

Vacation Friends 2

Vacation Friends came out two years ago and no one imagined there would be a sequel. But then, two years later, a sequel was released. Don’t be surprised if there is another movie two years or so from now! Why? Because these movies are insanely funny and entertaining; exactly what Hollywood is missing right now.

Given the cinematic landscape today, there are more serious films than ever. Just a few years back, something like Vacation Friends – and the sequel by extension – would have been branded tacky or kitschy. But now there is a whole new perspective to such films.

John Cena and all the other major cast members reprise their roles in Vacation Friends 2 which offers yet another drugs-filled money-crazed vacation. Steve Buscemi is introduced as a new character playing Kyla’s father, while Carlos Santos stars as a central character in this sequel.

The entire creative team is back as well, including director Clay Tarver, who brings a lot of familiarity to the comedic brand and dramatic undertones.

Vacation Friends 2 is set in the Caribbean with scenic beaches and the pristine ocean. It will be difficult to tell the difference between the first part and the sequel if you just look at images online without context. And a brief glance at the movie suggests more similarity as, like the first movie, this is a goofy comedy with uncomfortable situations and wacky character behaviour. 

Kyla (Meredith Hagner) and Ron (Cena) have just had their baby. The couple then meet up with Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and Emily (Yvonne Orji) for another vacation. Maurillio (Carlos Santos), the hotel manager from the previous film, has also been invited by Kyla and Ron as a babysitter. He hopes to find love during the vacation.

Unbeknownst to their counterpart couple, Marcus is having an important meeting with a Korean hotel chain right after the vacation ends. Emily urges him to tell them sooner rather than later but Marcus thinks that they will only make it worse.

Although the festivities begin smoothly with a fun night of drinks and dancing, Marcus realizes the next morning that his meeting has been moved up… by almost a week! He will have to present in a matter of days with Ron and Kyla still around. It is a proposition he dreads but nonetheless has to contend with. Adding to his woes is Kyla’s father, Reese, who has just recently been released from jail.

Marcus also has to win over Mr Yeon’s confidence (Ronny Chieng), the senior-most VP of the company to have a shot at the contract to build a five-star hotel in Chicago. But his path is riddled with unforeseeable obstacles that make the film a hilarious roller coaster ride.

Well, maybe rollercoaster isn’t the correct characterization since you’re getting exactly what you expect. There are no out-of-turn surprises waiting for the viewers. Vacation Friends 2 is exactly like Vacation Friends – which is both a good thing and a  bad thing.

It can be classed as good because the first film was a sleeper hit. The film proved to be a casual no-nonsense romp with a brand of comedy that is almost non-existent in mainstream cinema. Like that film, this is silly, degrading, and will make you laugh like there’s no tomorrow. Cena leads the charge with a fuelled-up performance, effortlessly scaling Ron’s appeal to the viewers.

Despite the two-hour runtime, the sequel is filled with bizarre incidents whose outcomes do not come predetermined. Buscemi and Carlos are solid additions and bring their unique styles to the drawing board, giving the writers more options in terms of storytelling.

However, the bad part is that you know exactly how Vacation Friends 2 will end. Certain scenes involving the two couples that worked in the first film just fall flat here. This is because the comedic vein is mostly the same and so too is the dialogue structure. As such, the sequel might fail to fully involve viewers. 

While the chemistry is still quite good, it lacks the punch of the first film and even seems dated in some places. This is partly because of the undercooked plot. As an example, Warren and Jerome’s threat is not as ominous as the film makes it out to be. The writers ought to have worked harder to develop a more menacing presence.

Although Reese himself is a gradient character, his characterization is not as good as Robert Wisdom’s, who played Harold in the first film. Harold’s character introduction completely changed the game for the first film. Also, Ron and Kyla’s characters lose a bit of mystery since we now know that they are harmless. 

But when all is said and done, fans of the first film will love the sequel to bits, while new viewers won’t find it too difficult to adjust to its tone and brand of humour.

Vacation Friends 2 is funny without being annoying or cringeworthy and delivers on its promise of entertainment. However, the sequel isn’t able to amount to anything more. If there had been some more character arcs and groundwork, Vacation Friends 2 would have proved to be far more effective.


Read More: Vacation Friends 2 – Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 6/10

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