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RICKY STANICKY

I Amazon MGM Studios I March 7, 2024 I

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.

REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus

RATING 3 out of 5

Ricky Stanicky may not be the funniest film that Peter Farrelly has ever made, but thanks to the committed and charming performance from John Cena as the titular character and an underlying message that hits all the right notes, the film comes together nicely to create an entertaining yet forgettable streaming comedy.

 

It’s safe to say that if you were a child growing up in the 1990s or early 2000s, there is a high probability that many of the comedies that you watched growing up were from the Farrelly Brothers, who were behind hits like Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, Osmosis Jones, and Shallow Hal to name a few. Since branching out on his own as a filmmaker, Peter Farrelly won two Academy Awards for 2018’s Green Book and followed it up with the hilarious and heartwarming Vietnam war comedy The Greatest Beer Run Ever. Reuniting with Zac Efron after The Greatest Beer Run Ever, his latest film takes Farrelly back once again to his R rated comedy roots with Ricky Stanicky, which features a cast that includes Efron, John Cena, Andrew Santino, Jermaine Fowler, William H. Macy, and Lex Scott Davis. Undoubtedly the film has some good laughs, but given that it’s an R rated comedy, it felt like Farrelly could have gone even wilder with some of the gags though the story has the required heart to make this a fun watch for audiences.

 

While the marketing boasted the R rating for Ricky Stanicky, the film takes a while to get to the outrageous comedic moments and sadly never fully utilizes its R rating. The first act is rather slow, introducing Efron’s character and his two best friends played by Santino and Fowler and their Ricky Stanicky lie that has been getting them out of trouble for years and setting the stage for them to hire an actor to trick their loved ones into believing that Ricky Stanicky is a real person. It’s not until the film’s second act where Cena enters the picture pretending to be Ricky Stanicky that the comedic moments truly begin. The second act features the best part of the film where Cena’s Rod is hired to be Ricky Stanicky at a party celebrating Santino’s character’s newborn son where Cena is hamming it up and passes off as Stanicky despite the trainwreck his character actually is. What ensues is the best laughs of the film as Stanicky becomes the “it” person at the party, drugs are accidentally given to a rabbi, and Stanicky saves the day in a sequence that alone justifies the R rating for the film. From that point on, the Stanicky lie begins to catch up with our trio of friends, and while there are some funny moments during this part of the film, they don’t match the standard set by the party scene and apart from language could have been in a PG-13 rated film. What helps bolster this latter half of the film is the film’s message about honesty, second chances and friendship, that while generic and not uncommon to the genre, brings an undeniable heart to the film that ensures the film has the creates the enjoyable, light hearted and funny experience audiences expect of it.

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When it comes to the film’s performances, there are no weak performances as everyone is clearly having fun on set making this film, which rubs off on the audience. Efron is charming in the lead role of Dean, bringing some funny moments and heart as Dean grapples with whether he should come clean about the Ricky Stanicky lie. Santino and Fowler are fun as Dean’s best friends JT and Wes, creating a fun dynamic with Efron on screen that helps to bring to life the central friendship of the story, while Davis is sweet as Dean’s girlfriend Erin. 

 

Though, it is the scene stealing of Cena as Rod pretending to be Ricky Stanicky that not only makes the entire film, but generates the best laughs. From the second he appears on screen, Cena is fully committed to his dual role as both Rod and Ricky Stanicky. As Rod, he captures a slight heartbreak as this man at the lowest point in his life, trying to find his path forward, and donning the most ridiculous costumes as an entertainer (you won’t ever forget seeing Cena dressed up as Britney Spears in the “Hit Me Baby One More Time” music video). But as Ricky Stanicky, Cena becomes this ever charismatic, charming and intelligent individual that while he may be talking nonsense at times, you can’t help but believe him to be this incredibly successful individual. As for the comedic moments, Cena is in his element and generates some of the best laughs as he makes his way through life pretending to be Ricky Stanicky with his overconfidence as his character finds himself way out of his comfort zone and trying to hide that from everyone and prevent Dean and his friends from exposing his secret. Without Cena, the film would be a complete bust, but with such an entertaining performance, it’s impossible not to have fun with Farrelly’s latest comedy.


You can never go wrong with a comedy starring Zac Efron or John Cena, so seeing them together in the newest Peter Farrelly comedy is worth the price of admission alone (though it’s streaming for free on Amazon Prime Video!) Even though it does not come close to the highs of Peter Farrelly’s previous comedies that made him the accomplished comedic filmmaker he is today, with some great laughs and the right amount of heart, you are still guaranteed to have a good time watching Ricky Stanicky. Thanks to a fully committed, hilarious and wonderful performance from John Cena as Ricky Stanicky that runs away with the entire film, there are some great laughs to be had with Peter Farrelly’s latest comedy Ricky Stanicky even if it does not fully utilize its R rating.

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