Nerdlocker Movie Review: Vacation Friends


“The best relationships are the ones you didn’t expect to be in, the ones you never even saw coming.” – unknown

This is the kind of movie that hurts to see simply because of the potential squandered for something so unsatisfying. I’ve heard it said and I don’t think it takes an experienced filmmaker to know that comedy is one of the hardest genres to create a movie for. It doesn’t just need to be funny, it needs to be memorable. Stupid funny is easy but the farthest things from unforgettable. I’m not saying you need to make a dramedy exactly but the subject should be taken as seriously as if you were making Schindler’s List. The genre shouldn’t dictate if the audience will take you seriously, it should be the approach and determination to bring something different, something at least halfway decent. If I called Vacation Friends run-of-the-mill I would be doing it a kindness.

My sort-of olive branch is what I spoke of before and that is the talent featured in a boring, unfocused dirty comedy. Lil Rel Howery, John Cena and Meredith Hagner are comedic powerhouses whittled down to caricatures of themselves or anyone that looks like them. Cena, the big dummy without a care in the world. Howery the mild mannered introvert and Hagner the crazy blonde without a single complex thought rattling around in her empty skull. While there are unquestionably moments that made me chuckle, I maintain every single second that I actually enjoyed is due to the brilliance of its cast, particularly Cena. He’s the kind of guy I can imagine being hung up on being the macho douche in the room but instead has no issue being the reason everyone is laughing. That for me is commendable and reason enough for me to like him as a person, and admire the roles he looks knowingly foolish performing.

I’ve seen previous performances from Howery that I thoroughly enjoyed, most recently his role as the security guard in Free Guy. He was not only hilarious, he managed to be lovable and human in a world not based in reality, and he was the most authentic thing about it. With Vacation Friends he’s shoved into a box where he’s Mr. Serious, no nonsense who on occasion lets loose. Yawn. This is the kind of guy who you give a basic outline of each scene and then let him do his thing. You show him points A and B, his path between them is his to determine. Those are the times you get the moments of greatness that people remember. The best part is if you aren’t satisfied with his choices in those scenes, he’s the kind of comedian who’s malleable who I believe would be perfectly capable of a give and take kind of filmmaking. I just know he’s better than what he was forced to do here and it’s frustrating to watch.

His performance here reminds me of Bryan Cranston’s performance in Why Him? After years of seeing the most serious character he’d likely ever do, Mr. White, he was finally returning to his comedic roots we all loved him for in Malcolm in the Middle. When he finally returned to comedy with Why Him? he played the serious guy again. It was such a letdown. I’ve seen the sadistic side for the better part of a decade, I want the goofy Hal Wilkerson side again, at least for a little while.

Vacation Friends is raunchy and wholly predictable. It’s boring. The characters are mashed up versions of so many others we’ve experienced before, many of which we never wanted to see again so why they brought them back in any form is baffling at best. The cast is the main reason for any interest you might have in this movie and they are wasted completely.

Rather than scenes birthing other scenes it feels like ninety minutes of montages where people do crazy things outside of their comfort zone. The Hangover is a better alternative. Role Models, Date Night, these are arguably much better choices where the main characters find themselves in zany situations. I was checking my phone by the third act, which means I checked out long before it ended and that’s always a bad sign. I can sum it up in one sentence and we can all move on with our lives: Vacation Friends is a January release mysteriously coming out at the end of Summer.

Rated R For: drug content, crude sexual references, and language throughout
Runtime: 103 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Starring: Lil Rel Howery, John Cena, Meredith Hagner, Yvonne Orji
Directed By: Clay Tarver

Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 4.5 Nerdskulls

Buy to Own: No.

Check out the trailer below:

For more info on comics, video games, movies and anything else nerd, check out, a place for your inner nerd.

Also check us out on:
Nerdlocker Shop:
Podcast: iTunes
Email us at:

Like it? Share with your friends!

Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard