Clay Tarver took a fun joyride with the anxious characters of Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and Emily (Yvonne Orji) and paired them up with the chaotic, free-wheeling duo of Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner) in an adequate showcase of debauchery that’s cumbersome to shake on the vacation landscape two years ago in Vacation Friends.
Conversely, its sequel is a methodically dull farce to deal with and seems to jumble too many cliched plot points that only serve toward its collapse. Yours indeed got a refreshment of witnessing the same old concepts from Daddy’s Home 2, Horrible Bosses 2, and Meet The Fockers that plagued their unevenness and made their predecessors look leagues better. We have the previous unseen/unheard-of parents or grandparents element, babies to roll around with, and the worn-out “impress the boss” narrative that dominates every inch of this sequel.
The damning weakness is that the cast isn’t enough to cover up its flaws this time. Yeah, John Cena revels in his otherworldly ludicrousness and makes the feature pop in some doses, but still can’t shake the tedious manner of his character trying to impress his wife’s father, Reese (Steve Buscemi). Regarding the story, Reese jumps into the party uninvited, bringing his crime background into the equation as Marcus contends with trying to impress Yeon (Ronny Chieng) to secure a gig for his construction company on a resort in the Caribbean. We have other side plots of waiting to see if babysitter Maurillio (Carlos Santos) will meet a partner and waiting for the ultimate arrival of Mrs. Kim (Julee Cerda).
Still, the comic friction becomes almost a nuisance in the story’s pacing, leaving a desire to see some level of stakes or maturity in the characters. Instead, we have laborious babysitting jokes and adult humor moments that bestrew any moments of freshness in today’s evolving comedy genre. What could’ve been a fun, audacious insight into the element of prospective parenthood or repairing fractured family relationships becomes a tirade of nonstop motions until the credits roll with Cena’s character eyeing a fellow over another drinking battle.
Perhaps this is a case of too soon, yet too little. High praise for Cena and Howery going all in on the chaos, but many would expect better from the caliber of their other peers or a more entertaining product like the predecessor was (barely) able to achieve.
You can’t acquire many laughs from here, folks; you’re better off seeing a comedy sequel like 22 Jump Street or Anchorman 2 than a watered-down mess in Vacation Friends 2.