Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 28, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 28, 2023

Vacation Friends 2
Rated R for drug use, some sexual references and pervasive language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 22%
Streaming on Hulu

When the first Vacation Friends came out in 2021, I found it to be a hilarious and lovable comedy. I immediately gravitated toward it because after all, I’ve never been on a trip where we didn’t make friends with another couple and some of those relationships have lasted years. Obviously, the story is a worst-case scenario situation, but man was it funny. Coming back for more, our two couples (John Cena, Meredith Hagner, Lil Rel Howery and Yvonne Orji) are getting together for a resort stay in the Caribbean. But things start to go horribly wrong when Hagner’s criminal father (Steve Buscemi) shows up to recruit them all into a nefarious plot involving a local gang and a high dose of unsuspected danger. While there are some big laughs to be had, the film certainly doesn’t have the verve of its predecessor, and much of the humor fails to launch. One of the problems is that the bad behavior by Cena and Hagner is very toned-down to the point that they are greatly subdued. Their craziness served as the fuel to the first movie’s fire, and that fuel was missing here, for the most part. Also, the plot around the father is simply weak and unbelievable, and completely unnecessary. It’s not a bad film, but it certainly doesn’t deliver the goods nearly as well as it could have. C+

The Blackening Rated R for violence, pervasive language and drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Available on disc and paid streaming

This hilarious horror/comedy focuses on a group of black friends who reunite for a Juneteenth weekend getaway in a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere. While there, they discover that there is a killer who intends to kill them if they can’t beat him in a game of black trivia. Going in, I thought this was going to be just a horror parody like Scary Movie. I quickly understood my mistake though as the film establishes itself as a smart and original mystery with a clever script and actors good enough to give it the gravity it needs to be taken seriously. While it’s not super-scary, it certainly makes up for that deficiency with a killer sense of humor and wit. And coming in at just over 90 minutes, the film gets its job done rapidly and efficiently. Overall, it’s an enjoyable experience that deserves to find a broader audience now that it’s playing in homes. B+