We're Too Picky for 'Ricky Stanicky'

Directed by Peter Farrelly

Starring Zac Efron, John Cena, Andrew Santino, Jermaine Fowler, William H. Macy

Photo: Ben King / Prime Video

BY Rachel HoPublished Mar 6, 2024


Peter Farrelly's latest bro-comedy has a fun and simple premise: three childhood friends make up a fake person, the titular Ricky Stanicky, to get them out of trouble one Halloween night. As the friends get married and have children, they continue to use Ricky as a scapegoat for shenanigans until the birth of one of their children raises questions and the need for the boys to bring Ricky to life.

Luckily for Dean (Zac Efron), JT (Andrew Santino) and Wes (Jermaine Fowler), a boys trip to Atlantic City brings celebrity impersonator "Rock Hard" Rod (John Cena) into their lives. After passing Rod-now-Ricky "the Bible" — a large document noting each time Ricky was invoked as an excuse and what characteristic/job/medical issue they attributed to him — Ricky studies up and joins the gang at JT's house for his newborn son's bris. Mildly amusing and ethically complicated challenges ensue.

Ricky Stanicky's runtime is 113 minutes — a decent amount of time for a comedy of this sort. Set up the story, introduce the comedic confusion, have the moral breakthrough, bro hug, roll credits with a photo montage. Oddly, though, for a story that feels ripe with fun antics and a charismatic performance from Cena to lead the way, Ricky Stanicky wears out its story by the 45-minute mark with the remaining hour-plus only feeling like filler.

A key to this drop-off could be found in the fact that six writers, including Farrell, are given a screenplay credit — too many cooks in the kitchen and all. There's a lot of laughs and nonsense to be had with Cena and company, but. instead, the film gets caught up in a corporate merger storyline that only serves to put a hat on a hat.

Aside from Cena's natural comedy chops, Jermaine Fowler turns in a meaningful performance that feels too earnest for the dialogue he's given, and William H. Macy steals the show with some great physical bits. As for Efron, while he isn't bad in this movie by any stretch of the imagination, following his tremendous performance in The Iron Claw, Ricky Stanicky feels like the kind of role he can and should leave in the past.

Perhaps Ricky Stanicky would have worked better as an extended Saturday Night Live short, although I do believe a great lite-entertainment feature-length film can be found in the story and performances. Unfortunately, as it is, Ricky Stanicky remains a good idea with lacklustre execution.

(Prime Video)

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