Vacation Friends
Promotional release poster
Directed byClay Tarver
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyTim Suhrstedt
Edited byEvan Henke
Music byRolfe Kent
Distributed by
Release date
  • August 27, 2021 (2021-08-27)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States

Vacation Friends is a 2021 American buddy comedy film directed by Clay Tarver, and co-written by Tom Mullen, Tim Mullen, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley.[1] The film stars John Cena, Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji, Meredith Hagner, Robert Wisdom, Lynn Whitfield, and Andrew Bachelor.

Distributed by 20th Century Studios, Vacation Friends was released on Hulu on August 27, 2021.[2] The film received mixed reviews from critics. A sequel titled Vacation Friends 2 was released on August 25, 2023.[3]


Marcus and Emily are on vacation in Mexico, where he intends to propose. His plan is ruined when first their room is flooded, and then a hotel employee ruins the surprise. With no other choice, Marcus proposes to her on the spot in the lobby, and she accepts. Wild and carefree Ron and Kyla watch their special moment, inviting them to stay with them in their luxury suite.

The four spend their vacation together, which includes Marcus and Emily eloping. Both black out due to excessive drinking but Marcus briefly regains consciousness during what appears to be Kyla having sex with him. The next day, Emily remembers nothing from the night before and Marcus decides to keep what he recalls a secret. At the end of their vacation, Marcus and Emily decide to cut ties with Ron and Kyla.

Months later, Marcus and Emily have their official wedding, hosted by Emily's parents, Harold and Suzanne. They, especially Harold, don't approve of Marcus, partly because of an incident where Marcus punched Emily's brother Gabe. Harold entrusts Marcus with the rings for the wedding, which belonged to Emily's great-grandparents.

Before the ceremony, Ron and Kyla crash the reception after discovering the wedding location online. Harold is initially furious at the intrusion, but instantly welcomes the couple after learning that Ron was a fellow Green Beret. Kyla reveals she is pregnant and Marcus is 'directly involved' in the pregnancy, making him believe that he is the baby's father. The next day, Ron speaks to Harold, convincing him to give Marcus a second chance. A grateful Marcus selects Ron to be best man, and Ron convinces Marcus to entrust him with the rings.

The next day, the men go golfing, with Gabe and his friend. To Marcus's chagrin, Ron suggests they bet on the game. Halfway through the round, Ron reveals that he bankrolled the wagers by pawning the wedding rings. On the final hole, Ron makes a massive bet that he can hit the 18th green in a single stroke. Despite Ron initially looking at the wrong green, forcing him to make a 375-yard shot to win the bet, he miraculously sinks a hole in one to win the bet.

After returning to the pawnshop to retrieve the rings, Ron accidentally causes Marcus to drop the rings in a sewer grate. Marcus chokes Ron in anger, who reveals that he was told by a doctor that he was sterile and that Kyla got pregnant 'because of Marcus'.

At the rehearsal dinner, Kyla prepares to make a speech, where it seems like she is going to announce that Marcus is the father of her child. He interrupts, sharing the full story of what he believes happened in Mexico, only for Kyla to reveal they only intend to name the baby after Marcus, and he is not the father. Emily reveals she was the one having sex with Kyla on top of Marcus. Marcus tells an angry Harold the rings were lost and a fight ensues. Outside the wedding hall, Marcus and Emily angrily demand that Ron and Kyla leave.

Emily's grandma, Phyllis delivers a wedding gift from Kyla. The letter inside reveals that Ron had lost his previous best friend Charlie (on military duty) and that his relationship with her and Marcus has helped him to recover. The gift is the wedding rings, which Ron retrieved from the sewer. Emily and Marcus realize they made a mistake by sending Kyla and Ron away, so they eventually find them. The four reunite, while Ron and Kyla reveal they are finally planning to marry, holding the same ceremony in Mexico where Marcus and Emily tied the knot, along with their family and friends joining.



In March 2014, it was announced Chris Pratt and Anna Faris were set to star in the film, with Steve Pink set to direct from a screenplay by Tom and Tim Mullen, and 20th Century Fox distributing.[4] In November 2015, it was reported Ice Cube had signed on to replace Pratt, with Faris no longer attached.[5] In December 2019, it was announced John Cena, Lil Rel Howery, and Meredith Hagner would star in the film instead, with Clay Tarver replacing Pink, 20th Century Studios attached to produce, and Hulu set to distribute.[6] In January 2020, Yvonne Orji joined the cast of the film.[7] In March 2020, Tawny Newsome and Barry Rothbart were added as well,[8] and in September 2020, Lynn Whitfield, Robert Wisdom and Kamal Bolden also signed on to co-star.[9]

Principal photography began in Georgia in March 2020.[10] However, production was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[11] Production resumed in September 2020,[12] and concluded in October 2020.[13]


The film was released on Hulu on August 27, 2021, in the United States,[2] Disney+ in international markets such as Canada and the United Kingdom. It was released as a launch title on Star+ on August 31 in Latin America.[14] Disney+ Hotstar released the film in India on August 27,[15] and in select territories on September 3, 2021.[16]


Audience viewership

According to Hulu, Vacation Friends became the most watched original film in its opening weekend of all time on the streaming service.[17][18][19]

Critical response

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 58% based on 74 reviews, with an average rating of 5.60/10. The critics consensus reads, "The laughs aren't always in steady supply, but the terrific cast makes Vacation Friends a comedy you can stream without serious reservations."[20] According to Metacritic, which sampled 16 critics and calculated a weighted average score of 49 out of 100, the film received "mixed or average reviews".[21]

Glenn Kenny of The New York Times stated that the movie's strength resides in its cast that successfully manages to provide entertainment, while finding Clay Tarver's direction skillful compared to what other buddy comedy movie directors provide.[22] Matthew Aguilar of rated the movie four out of five stars, found that the chemistry between the cast members delivers delight, praised the performances of the actors, while finding that Tarver's direction skillfully captures the attention of the audience with his own perspective on the buddy comedy genre.[23]

Matt Fowler of IGN rated the movie seven out of ten and praised the chemistry between the characters, complimented the performances of the cast, stating that both Cena and Meredith Hagner have a natural aptitude to provide a sharp humor, despite finding the movie unsurprising with its plot.[24] Brandon Katz of Observer rated the film two and a half out of four stars, claimed that the movie proves Cena is successfully able to portray characters in the comedy genre, found the soundtrack and classic humor of the movie enjoyable, despite finding it a bit generic compared to other buddy comedy movies.[25]


Main article: Vacation Friends 2

In September 2021, it was reported that a sequel titled Honeymoon Friends was in development, with the cast and Clay Tarver set to return.[17][26] In April 2023, the film was retitled Vacation Friends 2 and given a release date of August 25, 2023.[27]


  1. ^ "Vacation Friends". Writers Guild of America West. March 5, 2021. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Kenigsberg, Ben (2021-05-28). "Summer Movies 2021: Here's What's Coming to the Big (and Small) Screen". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
  3. ^ Nath, Nikita (August 15, 2023). "What is Vacation Friends 2 on Hulu all about? Release date, plot, and more". Sportskeeda. Retrieved 2023-09-08.
  4. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 25, 2014). "Fox Acquires 'Vacation Friends,' Pairing Chris Pratt And Anna Faris". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  5. ^ Busch, Anita (November 3, 2015). "Ice Cube Attached To Star In 'Vacation Friends' At Fox In Casting Revamp". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  6. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (December 3, 2019). "John Cena, Meredith Hagner, Lil Rel Howery To Star In 'Vacation Friends' Comedy From 20th Century Fox & Hulu". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  7. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (January 15, 2020). "'Insecure's Yvonne Orji Joins John Cena & Lil Rel Howery In 'Vacation Friends' Comedy". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  8. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (March 13, 2020). "Sean Patrick Flanery & More Star In 'Assault On VA-33'; Cleopatra Acquires 'Skin Walker'; Tawny Newsome, Barry Rothbart Join 'Vacation Friends'- Film Briefs". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  9. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (September 25, 2020). "'Vacation Friends': 'Greenleaf' Star Lynn Whitfield & More Cast In Hulu Comedy". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  10. ^ Ho, Rodney (June 1, 2020). "What is filming in Georgia in March? 39 projects including two Bruce Willis movies and comedy with John Cena". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  11. ^ Dennis, Ryan (March 16, 2020). "What's NOT filming in Georgia because of coronavirus". WXIA-TV. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  12. ^ Road Productions, Broken (September 11, 2020). "Six months to the day and we're finally back together! Let's finish this sucker! @johncena @comedianlilrel @cbtarver". Instagram. Archived from the original on 2021-12-24. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  13. ^ Road Productions, Broken (October 28, 2020). "And that's a wrap on Vacation Friends. I am so blessed to get to make movies and am feeling especially grateful to have been allowed to finish this very funny movie during these challenging times. I truly love this cast and crew and when I think back on this movie, it will be to this moment when we knew we were going to shut down, but soldiered on in spite of it! Thank you so much @cbtarver @comedianlilrel @johncena @yvonneorji @merediththeweasel and all our cast and crew! You are all rock stars!". Instagram. Archived from the original on 2021-12-24. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  14. ^ "Vacation Friends: John Cena & Lil Rel Howery Comedy to Debut in August". 2021-06-15. Retrieved 2021-06-15.
  15. ^ Naik, Kshiteej (2021-07-30). "Cruella, Spin, Vacation Friends, More Coming to Disney Plus Hotstar in August 2021". IGN India. Retrieved 2021-07-30.
  16. ^ Disney+ MY [@DisneyPlusMY] (July 23, 2021). "There are friends... and then there are 𝙫𝙖𝙘𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙛𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙨. Catch the new trailer for #VacationFriends starring John Cena, Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji and Meredith Hagner. Streaming 3 September only on #DisneyPlusHotstarMY!" (Tweet). Retrieved July 22, 2021 – via Twitter.
  17. ^ a b "'Vacation Friends' Sequel In Works After Hulu Movie Lands Biggest 3-Day Weekend Opening For An Original In Streamer's History". Deadline Hollywood. September 1, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  18. ^ Lutz, John (September 1, 2021). "'Vacation Friends' Is Getting a Sequel After Record-Breaking Opening Weekend on Hulu". Collider. Retrieved 2023-09-08.
  19. ^ Valle, Ali (August 12, 2023). "Vacation Friends 2 Trailer Finds John Cena in Another Crazy Trip". MovieWeb. Retrieved 2023-09-08.
  20. ^ "Vacation Friends". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 7, 2022.
  21. ^ "Vacation Friends". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved August 28, 2021.
  22. ^ Kenny, Glenn (2021-08-27). "'Vacation Friends' Review: Life Lessons Amid Chaos". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  23. ^ Aguilar, Matthew (August 27, 2021). "Vacation Friends Review: Hilarious From Beginning to End". Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  24. ^ Fowler, Matt (2021-08-27). "Vacation Friends Review". IGN. Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  25. ^ Katz, Brandon (2021-08-27). "'Vacation Friends' Is Like If Ted Lasso Loved Cocaine". Observer Media. Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  26. ^ Jackson, Angelique (2021-09-01). "'Vacation Friends' Lands Sequel, 'Honeymoon Friends,' From 20th Century Studios". Variety. Retrieved 2021-10-04.
  27. ^ Grobar, Matt (2023-04-25). "'Vacation Friends 2' Gets Hulu Premiere Date, First Look". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2023-04-25.