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Ricky Stanicky review: A feel-good comedy that has its moments

John Cena is in his element as he slips into the role of a man hired to impersonate a made-up individual

Ricky Stanicky review: A feel-good comedy that has its moments

Last Updated: 04.13 PM, Mar 06, 2024


Story: Three childhood friends decide to resurrect their imaginary friend Ricky Stanicky, after 20 years, to use him as an alibi for a night of partying. However, as cracks begin to appear in their story, they decide to hire a washed-up actor to impersonate their imaginary friend in the hopes of convincing their families.


Review: There is an evident dearth of quirky Hollywood comedies in recent years that end up being cult classics, such as Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary. The director of both the aforementioned films, Peter Farrelly, returns to helm Ricky Stanicky, in the hopes that his latest film can replicate the success of some of his iconic comedies. Unlike his relatively recent universally acclaimed comedy-drama, The Green Book, Farrelly goes old school with Ricky Stanicky.


The premise of Ricky Stanicky leans on familiar tropes about false identities and lies spiralling out of control for the protagonists. Of course, the story is repackaged with a relatively new concept, but not innovative enough to set it apart from comedies from yesteryear. However, John Cena’s portrayal of Rod aka Ricky Stanicky is a character certainly worth rooting for, even though his introduction keeps one guessing about his true motives. Cena’s Stanicky eventually embodies the ultimate underdog story, about a destitute man who attempts to reinvent his life for the better after a unique opportunity is presented to him.


Even though Cena essays the titular role, Zac Efron, Jermaine Fowler, and Andrew Santino’s characters are introduced as the primary protagonists. However, the narrative pivots to Stanicky as the story’s fulcrum towards the film’s second act. Through Stanicky the film attempts to explore a few themes on the wealth disparity amongst Americans, as well as themes of trauma, and mental health. The narrative also draws similarities between the traumatic childhoods of Stanicky and Efron’s Dean, emphasising how various circumstances moulded their contrasting perspective of the world and society.


Despite the film’s uneven pacing, it does redeem itself towards the third act. The film’s humour is elevated largely thanks to Cena’s efforts, while Efron plays a more pragmatic character, who is also the mastermind behind creating this imaginary friend. Regardless of its noticeable flaws, the film offers a heartwarming tale wrapped in a quirky adult comedy. It is also worth mentioning that Cena has successfully transitioned to a more credible actor than fellow pro-wrestler Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who happens to be one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood.


Verdict: Ricky Stanicky borrows elements from director Peter Farrelly’s previous films to deliver a passable comedy. John Cena is in his element as he slips into the role of a man hired to impersonate a made-up individual. Whereas it is a change of pace for Zac Efron, who recently starred in the poignant and tragic biopic The Iron Claw.



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