Saturday, April 20, 2024

“RICKY STANICKY”

THE STORY – When three childhood best friends pull a prank that goes wrong, they invent the imaginary Ricky Stanicky to get them out of trouble. Twenty years later, they still use the nonexistent Ricky as a handy alibi for their immature behavior.

THE CAST – Zac Efron, John Cena, Andrew Santino, Jermaine Fowler, Lex Scott Davis & William H. Macy

THE TEAM – Peter Farrelly (Director/Writer), Jeffery Bushell, Brian Jarvis, James Lee Freeman, Peter Jones & Mike Cerrone (Writers)

THE RUNNING TIME – 113 Minutes


What happened to the days of the R-rated studio comedy? It felt like studios were willing to greenlight anything, let alone ten years ago. Gone are the times of films like “Old School,” “The Hangover,” and even “Bad Teacher.” Studios used to take risks even when the finished result wasn’t anything memorable. At least there used to be an option, and we, as consumers, benefited from it whether we knew it or not. Instead, raunchy comedies are somewhat perceived as leftovers sent to streamers to be put in an endless catalog of films only to be found at two in the morning on a weekend night. Director Peter Farrelly (“Dumb and Dumber”) is attempting to right the ship as he steers back towards his comedic roots with his latest venture “Ricky Stanicky.” What you’re given, unfortunately, is a film not worthy of living up to the mantle of the R-rated comedy

“Ricky Stanicky” follows a group of friends who, to get out of a serious ordeal as young children, make up the identity of a friend named Ricky Stanicky. Skip forward years later, and these boys are now adults (played by the likes of Zac Efron, Andrew Santino, and Jermaine Fowler) who use this childhood fabrication to get out of any event that they deem as an inconvenience. When Santino’s character JT (an expecting father) finds he missed his son’s birth to have a boy’s day in Atlantic City, the guys hatch a plan to bring their fictional scapegoat to life. With the aid of a failed actor named Rod (played by John Cena), their plan only devolves into a web of lies that inspire the “hilarity” that occurs in the film. Sadly, the cast is serviceable, and no one stands out behind Cena. Efron is fine as Dean, but besides some moments of riffing with Santino, he doesn’t get to deliver something on par with his work on “Neighbors.” It’s a shame Santino isn’t given more to do besides stand by Efron’s side because his ability to deliver a punchline is unmatched. Jermaine Fowler is the one main cast member pushed to the wayside, and that’s tragic because if you’ve seen “Sorry to Bother You,” you’d know how brilliant he is. Their chemistry is solid enough to bring enough energy to drag audiences through specific sequences, but it’s nothing enamoring. At times, you will question whether these guys have been childhood friends. William H. Macy also appears in “Ricky Stanicky,” exuding energy that he stumbled onto the wrong set. This cast can’t do much when this is the material given to them.

Frankly, the film is terribly unfunny, mainly because it is poorly written. The screenplay is thinly constructed as the circumstances that conspire in the story are far more humorous on paper than how they eventually appear on screen. There’s a sequence involving a Brit Milah ceremony (A Jewish ceremony of circumcising a young boy), which ultimately lends to Cena’s unpredictable character being the one to cut the rest of Jt’s son’s foreskin. It plays out well, mainly due to those two actors’ expressions selling it, but don’t expect much of that throughout the whole movie. Clever jokes are rationed across an almost two-hour film, mostly leaving audiences devoid of what they came to see. Most of the comedic heavy lifting comes from the magnetism of John Cena’s screen presence. His commitment is quite admirable, leading to most of the film’s genuine comedic moments. There’s a bit about Cena’s character turning many classic songs into a sexually charged stage performance filled with an array of costumes and makeup. Cena, who’s played this type of character before, still manages to make the most of it. Whenever the film attempts to diverge from being a comedy and take a more serious tone, it falls apart even more. Multiple storylines surround the friends’ struggles in their personal lives (specifically Dean and Wes), which are never really acknowledged besides a slight comment in a bar and then wrapped up in an end-credit montage. “Peter Stanicky” fails to even serve up a functional film, let alone one that’s supposed to be entertaining.

By the end of the day, you’ll wonder what you just watched. Farrelly has excelled in this department before, so what makes this misfire with “Ricky Stanicky” so different? Maybe it’s the lingering “prestige” now associated with the two-time Academy Award winner. At least his last film, The Greatest Beer Run (which also starred Zac Efron), was a far more admirable attempt at striking a balance between finding humor and drama. It’s admirable that Farrelly wants to return to the genre of film that made him a commodity in the industry. My respect will always go out to filmmakers who aren’t afraid of the stigma of working on certain genres and are willing to try whatever. Multiple Farrelly comedies are enjoyable, so it’s perplexing to understand what happened here. “Ricky Stanicky” feels like a film that can’t shake the feeling it was made on an assembly line to be slotted into the programming of a streaming service. If this was the early 2000s, this film would’ve earned a wide release and probably earned an okay box office return. Today, it is just something made to be digested and thrown away with little thought afterward.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - John Cena's screen presence and commitment is the film's only saving grace. The three friends, played by Zac Efron, Andrew Santino, and Jermaine Fowler, are all solid and have some fun moments of riffing between the three.

THE BAD - Its screenplay is so generic, unfunny, and flat that it failed to garner a reaction from me for most of its almost two-hour runtime. A dull experience blandly directed by Peter Farrelly, who's made far funnier films.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 4/10

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Giovanni Lago
Giovanni Lago
Devoted believer in all things cinema and television. Awards Season obsessive and aspiring filmmaker.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>John Cena's screen presence and commitment is the film's only saving grace. The three friends, played by Zac Efron, Andrew Santino, and Jermaine Fowler, are all solid and have some fun moments of riffing between the three.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>Its screenplay is so generic, unfunny, and flat that it failed to garner a reaction from me for most of its almost two-hour runtime. A dull experience blandly directed by Peter Farrelly, who's made far funnier films.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>4/10<br><br>"RICKY STANICKY"