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March 7, 2024 / Prime Video

Starring: Zac Efron, Jermaine Fowler, Andrew Santino, Lex Scott Davis, Anja Savcic, Jeff Ross, William H. Macy, John Cena

Directed By: Peter Farrelly

When three childhood best friends pull a prank gone wrong, they invent the imaginary Ricky Stanicky to get them out of trouble! Twenty years after creating this ‘friend,’ Dean, JT, and Wes (Zac Efron, Andrew Santino, and Jermaine Fowler) still use the nonexistent Ricky as a handy alibi for their immature behavior. When their spouses and partners get suspicious and demand to finally meet the fabled Mr. Stanicky, the guilty trio decide to hire washed-up actor and raunchy celebrity impersonator "Rock Hard" Rod (John Cena) to bring him to life. But when Rod takes his role of a lifetime too far, they begin to wish they’d never invented Ricky in the first place. From director Peter Farrelly and featuring additional cast members including William H. Macy, Lex Scott Davis, and Anja Savcic.

Written By Kurt Morrison

Rating 2.5 out of 5

The journey of Ricky Stanicky is an absolutely crazy one. Here’s a brief history lesson for all you readers. Ricky Stanicky is a film that has been in development for close to 15 years now. All incarnations since 2008 seemed to never be able to take off, and as this script that sat atop the illustrious ‘Black List of the best unproduced screenplays’ , such famous names as Jim Carrey, Joaquin Phoenix and James Franco have all been attached (at separate times) to star as the aforementioned Ricky Stanicky.

Ricky Stanicky is definitely a product of the mid to late 2000’s, with its zany and ridiculous premise and execution. Directed by Peter Farrelly, this has so many shades of other comedies that Farrelly has directed in the past with his brother, Bobby. Shallow Hal, Stuck on You, and 2008’s The Heartbreak Kid all play the same comedy chords as Ricky Stanicky, meaning they’re funny but they don’t quite stick after the film finishes. It never quite achieves that comedic level of Farrelly’s Dumb and Dumber or There’s Something About Mary, but in the moment, will get consistent laughs.

Peter, who is onto solo directing outing number three with Ricky, also had his hands in rewrites of the original blacklisted screenplay, along with frequent collaborators Pete Jones and Mike Cerrone. And herein lies the fundamental problem with the comedy. A case of too many cooks in the kitchen.

The script has seen six sets of hands and minds, all with different senses of humor and comedic timing. At times, some of the jokes feel like they are actually from 2008, while others have a more present approach to them. The tone never really feels consistent, and coming from a guy who wrote and directed a Comedy All-Timer like Dumb and Dumber, I expected to feel more comedic cohesiveness through the films runtime. I am no expert on writing a script but I could sense where there were 2022 rewrites from Farrelly and Co, compared to the original 2008 spec script written by David Occhino, Jason Decker and Jeffrey Bushell.

There are positives to the comedy, as everyone is very well cast. The core trio consisting of Zac Efron, Andrew Santino and Jermaine Fowler are incredibly funny and have great chemistry. They bounce off each other really well and in the scenes where it is just the three of them reminiscing, there was a believability to their friendship and brotherly love. It reminded me a lot of my core group of friends, where insulting each other is a love language and the meaner the insult, the more I/we actually care.

Just bros being dudes being guys.

Efron plays the quintessential leader of the core Dean, while Santino’s smug sarcastic JT is the absolute showstealer. His brash attitude is exactly the type of comedy that Santino excels at in stand-up and on social media so practically everything he said had me laughing throughout the film. He plays an asshole and he’s not meant to have a real redeeming quality about him, especially as we see how he treats Cena’s Ricky. Fowler’s Wes has a few interestingly placed and funny plot twists that feel very 2020s comedy. Not forced in any way BUT I do wonder what the character of Wes looked like back in the potential 2008 script. It worked BUT it does feel like the outlier of the trio.

The film excels comedically solely on the gigantic back of wrestling’s own John Cena. Listen folks, I bought stock a longggg time ago in Cena to become a big Hollywood player. I think he possesses more charisma and comedic chops than either of his wrestling counterparts Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson or Dave Bautista, and it never feels like he’s trying to force his comedic flex. It comes so naturally to the big man, allowing Cena’s fast quibbling physicality to command laughs through Ricky. The character quickly grows on you, even from the first frame, as it mixes a whackload of outrageous comedy with a lot of heart. You start rooting for Cena’s Stanicky even though you know he’s a drunken idiot. It felt very Jim Carrey-esque from Dumb and Dumber or Me, Myself and Irene. A guy who is just looking for a friend at the end of the day and to wrong some rights in his life. The way he achieves those ‘rights’ might not be the smartest BUT you can’t help but root for him.

I wanted to love Ricky Stanicky. I really did. And like a one night stand, it is fun while it lasts. It’s nowhere as funny as I thought it would be, but given that it’ll be streaming on Prime Video, it’s worth tossing on to see Cena ratchet up to a whole different level of comedy, while Efron and Co. navigate a minefield of goofy lies and situations.

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