Ricky Stanicky

John Cena makes a full-throttle commitment to a new Peter Farrelly film, but it's really not enough to salvage a misfired comedy.

During the pandemic Australia experienced a mini-boom in US productions filming in Australia.

It’s a trend that has continued with titles such as Apples Never Fall, Ice Road 2 and more. The latest to premiere is Ricky Stanicky a comedy feature from “gross-out” director Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber).

It begins grossly enough when three kids play an “exploding excrement” prank on some neighbours which, when it backfires leads to them leaving a telltale clue to a fictional kid, ‘Ricky Stanicky.’

Fast-forward by some twenty or so years and the three young men are still drawing upon the phony name to get out of a sticky situation.

That happens to be a pending baby shower for JT (Andrew Santino) and his wife, Susan (Anja Savcic). But Dean (Zac Efron) has plotted with Wes (Jermaine Fowler) to concoct an emergency story that Ricky has a cancer scare. In reality it’s just a ploy to get them to a boys’ weekend in Atlantic City. Charming.

There they encounter ‘Rock Hard’ Rod (John Cena), a beefy failed comedian whose stage act comprises singing ‘Jizz Jamz’ -masturbation-themed songs inspired by Billy Idol, Boy George and Britney Spears. Rod’s work has hit rock bottom and even the local barman wants him thrown out.

But the boys’ plans hit a snag when JT’s wife goes into labor, prompting a swift return, conflicting stories to partners and some suspicion if Ricky even exists. Rod is quickly hired to pretend to be the mysterious Ricky at a ceremonial bris for the new baby. It’s a device for a classic mistaken identity tale, which alas, is not so classic here.

Not even JT’s mum Leona (Heather Mitchell) is convinced of Ricky’s identity, although Mrs. Levine (Debra Lawrance) is more easily fooled. Dean and JT’s boss Ted Summerhayes (William H. Macy) is also bamboozled by the stories the loud and persuasive Ricky spins. Seemingly embraced by his new-found people, Ricky is keen to stay on and turn his life around, which is a big problem for out three heros.

In a fairly forgettable comedy, where the laughs are decidedly thin on the ground, it is John Cena who emerges as the surprise package, showing comic timing and a commitment to the buffonery of Farrelly’s world. It takes three ‘straight’ men just to match his foil.

There’s a handful of rude humour and slapstick scenes, but not even William H. Macy doing d*** jokes can save this soggy biscuit. Nor was I particularly impressed with Jermaine Fowler playing a gay character in the trio. There was nothing authentic about it, no chemistry with his partner (Daniel Monks) and the whole thing felt like Farrelly’s attempt to be more inclusive for the sake of being inclusive (almost as if someone at the studio had suggested one of the three could be gay?).

You will spot other Aussie faces Ryan Shelton, Sharon Johal, Marta Kaczmarek, Jane Badler, Nathan Jones, Jasper Bagg and bizarrely Stan Grant playing reporter Stan Grant. Along with identifying local locations including the Forum Theatre, Avalon airport, Richmond’s Royston Hotel, it’s arguably the most fun to be found in this disappointment, which completely falls apart in a badly-written third act.

It’s John Cena’s performance as the title character who is the best excuse for some down under jokes. Hopefully everybody else involved made a mint from their participation.

Ricky Stanicky is now screening on Prime Video.

7 Responses

  1. I like John Cena, a bit underrated and misunderstood, pales in comparison to fellow WWE turned acting star mate Dwayne Johnson. Needs his agent to give him more roles including mixing up genres, always seems to do comedic performances/adult rom coms. His performance at the Oscars yesterday has made me revisit this title, seems to have taken a long time to get off the ground, recall him and Efron’s paparazzi snaps when filming in Melbourne were years ago now during COVID.

  2. I thought the trailer looked pretty good (though I actually thought all three of the main characters were meant to be gay, not just one token one), but David’s reviews are pretty much always on the money so I’m a hell of a lot less inclined to set myself up for a waste of time now.

  3. I thought the film was nothing special, just another raunchy comedy that serves its purpose.

    PS: David, I noticed you spelt Zac Efron’s name wrong.

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