“Vacation Friends 2” initially held promise, but failed to deliver on its potential. While the original film was enjoyable in a lighthearted way, this sequel veers in the opposite direction, struggling to capture the charm of its predecessor. The concept of an ordinary couple bonding with a more chaotic pair had room for creative expansion, yet this installment misses the mark by settling for a formulaic approach that doesn’t fully capitalize on the team-up’s potential.
John Cena and Meredith Hagner’s characters bring back their over-the-top humor, aiming to engage viewers but falling flat in the process. This time around, the story centers on a resort stay gone awry, as Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and Emily (Yvonne Orji) attempt a relaxing vacation, only to have their plans derailed by the disruptive antics of Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner). The plot takes a predictable turn as Marcus and Emily invite the chaotic couple to join them at a Caribbean hotel, accompanied by their infant child and the deadpan hotel manager Maurillio (Carlos Santos) from the previous film.
The narrative takes an unexpected twist when Steve Buscemi’s character, Reese, enters the scene as Kyla’s father, injecting further chaos into Marcus’ life. Reese’s manipulative actions become a catalyst for contrived scenarios that drain the humor out of the chaos, undermining the film’s comedic potential. While the backdrop of a sunny Hawaiian setting offers an opportunity for enjoyment, the strained comedic moments and forced character actions leave viewers struggling to find genuine amusement.
As the story shifts into an action-comedy, it fails to break free from conventional tropes, opting for stagnant and uninspired set-pieces. Performances by the cast, including Cena and Hagner, become tiresome as their antics grow repetitive. Even a subplot involving the newly married couple challenging societal norms lacks impact. The characters, including those portrayed by underused actors like Ronnie Chieng and Carlos Santos, fail to elevate the movie’s shallow personality, embodying fleeting attempts at silliness.
Writer and returning director Clay Tarver doubles down on tired gags, relying on loud performances, awkward timing, and predictable visual jokes. However, the impact of these comedic elements remains fleeting, mirroring the short shelf-life common in this style of comedy. Overall, “Vacation Friends 2” falls short of expectations, failing to capture the original’s charm and struggling to find its comedic footing.