Additionally, writer and director Clay Tarver compared the film to his past life as a musician. While on tour, every night would be a “big bonding experience” with the locals of the town they were visiting. Being more general, Tarver also spoke to the universality of the film’s premise.

“I think we all go on vacation, you meet somebody, and you sort of get close with them for a week… maybe a little too close, you know? And then when you return to the sober light of day, you’re like ‘Wait were we friends? Or were we not friends? How close of friends were we?’. You have this freedom to go a little bit out of your comfort zone because you think you’re never gonna see them again. And well, this is a movie where the whole premise is ‘What if you do see them again?’”

Vacation Friends Is A Universal Feel-Good Comedy - The Illuminerdi
(L-R): Meredith Hagner as Kyla, Yvonne Orji as Emily, Lil Rel Howery as Marcus and John Cena as Ron in VACATION FRIENDS

If he met a wild couple like Ron and Kyla, Cena said he would “take the experience in” and “enjoy their company.” Comparing to people he’s met in the past and “had a blast” with, Cena ruminated on the nature of respect towards Ron and Kyla as outsiders of society.

“I believe that respect is a boomerang, you know?…I don’t think [they’re] truly disrespectful…they just [don’t] adhere to what we think is “structural society”… They really enjoy the present and that’s a very rare commodity…I don’t know how how far I would go with them, but I certainly would enjoy their company.”

Addressing real-life vacation misadventures, the cast mentioned tequila, threesomes, New Years Eve drug parties in Aspen, and malevolent horses on the beaches of Puerto Rico. Hardly more seriously, Wisdom philosophized about the life of an actor as a vacation, adding his own shocking twist.

“An actor’s life is sort of like a vacation. You’re working on location and you’re constantly meeting people and you think they’re good for you, then you find out they’re drug traffickers and the FBI calls your room…’”

THE FUN OF VACATION FRIENDS

Considering the ongoing state of the world, Tarver reflected that this was the right time for a movie like Vacation Friends because “everyone’s ready for a good vibe movie.” Orji agreed, “I think some vacations have been cut short in real life, and I think people are looking for just any kind of escapism,” with Cena adding that “we’ve all had to modify what ‘vacation’ means to us.”

“All of us remember our vacation moments…I think that’s what’s important about this film. I hope audiences are entertained and they laugh. That’s what I hope they take away…I think it’s going to be good for people to just sit down and enjoy a film that that might make them remember a moment of their life and smile a little bit and laugh a little bit.”

Howery continued the sentimentality, saying that in his opinion, “straight-up funny comedies” are missing nowadays but Vacation Friends is, in fact, a straight-up funny movie. 

“Laughter is so important right now. I think laughter is just good for the soul, and I think people are really going to enjoy this movie.”

VACATION FRIENDS AS A RELATABLE HUMAN STORY

Vacation Friends Is A Universal Feel-Good Comedy - The Illuminerdi
(L-R): Yvonne Orji as Emily and Lil Rel Howery as Marcus in VACATION FRIENDS

Given that the straight-laced Marcus and Emily are African-American and the rowdy Ron and Kyla are white, a reporter asked if the film had a message about reversing racial stereotypes. Orji thought the reversal was refreshing but Howery elaborated eloquently saying that Vacation Friends was a human story first and foremost.

“I think that’s one of the things that’s smart about this. Some of the events we do in the movie for the wedding is stuff you don’t normally see Black people doing. I think that’s what I love about this movie. It’s more or less about just humanizing everybody, right? And not putting (box gestures) like ‘Okay this is the only thing we do’…I like the fact that it’s just a human story, and we just happen to be Black.”

“I don’t think it was like ‘This is a social message!’ If you just make it a human story with people of color playing the majority of the main characters you see, that’s how you do that it. We just made everybody human in this story and I think that’s what’s dope about it.”

Speaking to his experience with the script, John Cena said he related to Ron’s ability to be present, saying “This is kind of where I am in my life right now.” Cena compared the universal relatability of the film and its simple title to classic R comedies.

“Any great comedy takes relatable situations and completely makes them hysterically absurd, and that’s what this movie does…You get what The Hangover is [just from the title]…we can laugh at it, because these people go through these absurd situations. So you know what Vacation Friends is about.”

Cena also added that he learned the power of physical performances through Vacation Friends, creating international appeal by transcending language barriers around the world. 

“I think what Clay brilliantly did in the script was provide a ton of physical comedy…You can not necessarily know what’s going on with the audio and see the movie and still laugh along with it, because of the tremendous amount of physical comedy. I think that’s going to help us around the world and hopefully we can make a lot more people laugh.”

Stay tuned for our second installment from the press conference covering the cast chemistry and challenges of making a directorial debut during COVID!

Vacation Friends Is A Universal Feel-Good Comedy - The Illuminerdi

Vacation Friends premieres on August 27th in the US on Hulu and Star on Disney+ internationally. Are you excited for Vacation Friends? Let us know what you think of it in the comment section below or over on our social media!

KEEP READING: SHANG-CHI DIRECTOR REVEALS WHAT DREW HIM TO THIS FILM AND WHAT HELPFUL ADVICE BLACK PANTHER DIRECTOR RYAN COOGLER GAVE HIM