Ricky Stanicky (2024)

Ricky Stanicky Review

Ricky Stanicky

Before Judd Apatow took over the comedy film industry with movies about man-boys, permanently adolescent men, there was Peter Farrelly whose films with his brother Bobby could go from being sweetly funny to outright inappropriate like “Dumb and Dumber” or “There’s Something About Mary,” to whatever that trainwreck called “Movie 43” is. After that, he expanded into television, then the Oscar-winning “Green Book,” and finally “The Greatest Beer Run Ever,” a Vietnam War-era drama gone wrong. He has now returned to tried and true dude comedies of his past with “Ricky Stanicky”.

“Ricky Stanicky” feels like a throwback, and not in a nostalgic fun way either. It sounds more like tired bits and jokes repeated with nothing particularly interesting or smart to say. That means it’s hard to blame one piece without simply declaring ‘it’s all wrong.”

It is not technically possible to call Ricky Stanicky as a character at first of this movie since he is an imaginary scapegoat dreamed up on the spot by three young kids who are in deep trouble after pulling off the aforementioned firecracker in a bag trick which went horribly bad. Over time (and as seen in an animated credits sequence), they have blamed Ricky for all sorts of shenanigans and poor decisions. Even today when grown adults are asked why they left their families Dean (Zac Efron), JT (Andrew Santino) or Wes (Jermaine Fowler) will tell you it was because of Ricky –they actually wanted to go on vacation together, watch sports games or attend concerts. They were eventually caught during their last secret adventure meaning that their loved ones insisted on meeting their reformed rogue friend—Ricky Stanicky for shortening appearances sake. To maintain appearances they hire Rod (John Cena), an out-of-work alcoholic actor from Atlantic City who can play Ricky during their upcoming family gathering and thus ensue hilarity this is Hollywood after all.

“Ricky Stanicky” is mostly juvenile and joyless, with lots of long running jokes, bawdy ejaculation references, and cringe humor of varying degrees. In “Green Book,” William H. Macy plays Dean and JT’s boss who inadvertently makes crude gestures insinuating blow jobs during company meetings. A silly Rabbi who mistakenly takes ketamine before failing to perform the circumcision he was supposed to do also shows up in a scene by Jeff Ross. The only black character in “Green Book” played by its director Wes is jobless stoner while his friends Dean and JT are white collar workers. Somebody may find it amusing; however I don’t know such people myself.

To their own credit, Efron and Cena make the best out of a difficult situation. As Dean, Efron has more freedom for emotional scenes—he is the man with a plan who is stuck watching Rod-as-Ricky throw him and his friends, and later his girlfriend, one curveball after another, further inserting himself into their lives. All of this makes him a little older and wiser, an evolution that Efron carries off with the kind of earnestness that some of Farrelly’s better comedic films have shown. Regarding Cena though, he just gives everything he’s got to Rod by playing it from extreme ends including exhibiting signs of alcohol withdrawal and putting on terrible impressions about rock stars singing cum puns or pulling in information he learnt within 24 hours in normal conversations about how he was just Ricky Stanicky his whole life visiting exotic countries or working with Bono or surviving cancer.

Cena does not have great lines but still manages to get what little there is out without ruining the movie by keeping a straight face saying something ridiculous.

As funny as it might be when Cena flees men he believes are hitmen while dressed in Britney Spears’s “Hit Me Baby One More Time” outfit or Efron’s pained look when Rod won’t stop being Ricky anymore indicate otherwise; this picture has other problems which prevent any moment from being enjoyable for too long. Sooner than later something will be said or done that will put an end to any good mood or the joke will go so many times it becomes uselessness. At its best “Ricky Stanicky” seems like a mixed bag at most especially at worst it reminds us that some childhood games are best left back then.

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