The friends of the holidays, the review of the new Disney + comedy

The friends of the holidays, the review of the new Disney + comedy

The friends of the holidays

Holiday friends are generally that group of acquaintances who make each other almost by chance, see each other once and then hardly meet again in the future. In the summer comedy produced by 20th Century Studios, entitled The Friends of the Holidays, which arrives in Italy exclusively on Disney + (in the United States on Hulu), the friends of the memorable summer holidays are transformed into a real nightmare. The exclusive publication on the streaming platform, without any passage through the cinemas, however, immediately sounds an alarm bell, but we find out more in this review which, as always, will be spoiler-free.

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The friends of the holidays: good morning starts in the morning

Before going into the film, let's try to understand together what these alarm bells are. Officially, in fact, the Fox titles (and Searchlight Pictures) should be released, by contract, at the cinema, without any possibility of being published directly in streaming. In the latter case, the rights, until 2022, belong to HBO so at the most they should be published on HBO Max unless it is decided to sell the publishing rights to third party services. This rule applies to all films that were already actively in production before the Disney acquisition was made official in March 2019.

Well, all of this did not apply to The Friends of the Holidays since, although it was already in the works since 2014, the first production problems, which also saw the change of the main cast, meant that the production came suspended and then resumed at the end of 2019 with 20th Century Studios, Hulu and Disney +. As if that were not enough, filming began again in March 2020, just before the global lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The obvious production block only ended last fall, about eleven months after its streaming release. In short, all this confusion is tangible in the final product which objectively lacks a real soul of its own.

A very inspired but shallow story

The story begins with Marcus ( Lil Rel Howery) and Emily (Yvonne Orji), an engaged couple who decide to go on vacation to a fantastic exotic island so that he can ask his beloved to become his wife despite various blocks from her family. In reality, the plans are destroyed due to the presence of another rather expansive and outgoing couple consisting of Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner) who put their very stay on the island at risk. After a thousand ups and downs, a strange friendship is born between the two couples even if for Marcus and Emily this is destined to end together at the end of the holiday. In fact, once back in Atlanta, Ron and Kyla end up inviting themselves to the wedding, turning it into a real hell that risks ruining Marcus both professionally and privately.

Holiday friends shows himself how a superficial return to the past both in the 80s, when perhaps Dan Aykroyd and John Candy were the symbol of this kind of comedy, and in the early 2000s, with the fantastic Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell. The basic ingredients are all there: a charming cast with obvious comedic skills, a fun culture clash and an idyllic setting. However, they are thrown carelessly instead of giving them a well-kept and consistent logical thread with the story itself. Director Clay Tarver and his four co-writers try to repair the many cracks with an irreverent and cheeky comedy that ends up embarrassing the viewer every time the opportunity arises.

A ' potentially interesting idea

Obviously it's not all to be thrown away, because in the end there is something undeniably interesting even if unfortunately it is not deepened as it should. The idea of ​​psychologically examining who we are and what we could tolerate while on vacation even in a comic key could be really engaging. In fact, all of us have some experience in our mental agenda of an adventure on vacation or an unlikely friendship that was designed exclusively for that short period of time. It is such a short period of time that each of us could do or say things that in normal life we ​​would not say or do. A brief chance to reinvent their life and reinvigorate it, and so with Holiday Friends, we are offered a scenario that explains why an organized, planning couple would indulge in unbridled fun just for the fun of it in just seven days. br>
Unfortunately, Tarver's film throws the protagonists, and the spectators, into the depths of hell right from the start, destroying any possibility of realism that this film might have. Instead of a growing escalation of wild behavior, Ron and Kyla immediately begin acting in ways so out of the ordinary that they seem like a cartoon that is hard to believe. The only legitimate question is why would anyone want to spend another second with these thugs. Just minutes after the meeting, the two savages try to drug Marcus and Emily's drinks with cocaine they smuggled into Mexico before a series of far-fetched situations involving multiple drugs, a gun, physical altercations, and an orgy.

The five writers involved in the script have not been able to find a justification for making real sense of their friendship and, therefore, it becomes even more far-fetched to accept the chaos of marriage in Atlanta. Generally, in fact, strongly negative events are understood because some defects or skeletons are discovered in the closet that you want to keep hidden. This, for example, was the common thread of almost all the films with Ben Stiller. Here, however, it starts from an unrealistic premise and ends with a cycle of savage acts followed by sighs and scruples that are difficult to accept.


The cast does its best to distract from the story, with Cena and Howery, for example, characterizing their characters well and also giving some rare funny moments. Unfortunately, they are not enough to save The Friends of the Holidays as the script is noticeably lacking in jokes or moments of genuine laughter. The omnipresent madness becomes cloying in the long run and the icing on the cake is the forced sentimentality present towards the finale which makes the whole film even more difficult to digest. We therefore think that the producers were aware that the final product would not have had a great success at the box office and for this reason they opted for an exclusively streaming release.

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