Ricky Stanicky – PRIME VIDEO

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Ricky Stanicky - John Cena as the imaginary friend!

Many kids seem to have had imaginary friends and the three childhood friends Dean, JT and Wes that we meet on Halloween 1999 invent one out of necessity when a Trick or Treat prank goes calamitously awry and they manage to deflect the blame onto the non-existent friend Ricky Stanicky. Twenty five years later Dean (Zac Efron), JT (Andrew Santino) and Wes (Jermaine Fowler) have found that their imaginary friend has become a blessing in disguise as their go-to excuse for getting away from their wives and partners for wild weekends. So when JT’s wife has a baby shower their imaginary friend calls them out of the blue for urgent support and the three escape for a wild weekend in Vegas.

And Vegas is where they meet their friend Ricky Stanicky except they don’t know it yet as it takes the form of Rod aka John Cena, a down on his luck actor who now earns a living as stage act Rock Hard Rod performing obscene versions of popular hits. It’s an opportunity for a montage of Cena dressed as music acts that range from flower pot headed Devo, mangled make up mannequin Alice Cooper and of course Britney Spears in ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ mode.

But when the trio are called back home when JT’s wife  goes  into contractions early and gives birth they’re Ricky Stanicky cover story is challenged and they blag their way into convincing their partners and families that Ricky is real. Cue a phone call to Rock Hard Rod to take on the role who sees it as a proper acting role and reads up on the bio that the friends have written over the years and now knows Ricky better than they do.

Like all lies it spirals out of control as they have to lie to cover the lie and so on and son on with the risk of being uncovered is a real risk when Dean & JT’s boss (William H Macy) is so taken in with Rod’s alter ego that he hires him.

Directed and co-written by Peter Farrelly it sees him return to comedy after Oscar winning success of ‘Green Book’ a film that won Best Film Oscar and even then it seemed to a be bit of PC voting by the Academy when you consider the other nominees  included A Star is Born, Black Panther, Roma, The Favourite, BlacKKKlansman and Vice. It’s a story device with loads of potential and John Cena as the alcoholic, steroid addicted washed up actor prepared to dress in the most ludicrous of outfits proves that he is pretty game for anything as his turn as Peacemaker proved. Cena  overshadows everyone else with perhaps only Jeff Ross, the great toastmaster of those American celebrity  roasts, in a cameo as a rabbi being the only competition.

But Ricky Stanicky suffers from the ‘best-bits-in-the-trailer’ syndrome and though there are laughs what disappoints is that with six screenwriters and with a premise such as this there must have been more laughs to have been mined than are on view here. Farrelly especially who, along with his brother Bobby, gave us several of the greatest gross out comedies of the 90’s with Kingpin, Dumb and Dumber and There’s something about Mary. There are the occasional flashes of brilliance, (the CEO who unwittingly makes obscene gestures when giving speeches is but one) but ultimately the film works towards that common trope of modern day comedy – to accept one another. Not a bad thing per se but it now seems to be an obligatory denouement for modern day comedy films and Ricky Stanicky is that best friend we wish we all had who never reaches his full potential.

related feature : Green Book review

related feature : Wicked Little Letters – we talk swearing with director Thea Sharrock & writer Jonny Sweet

Here’s the Ricky Stanicky trailer…..

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