Ricky Stanicky review: John Cena, Zac Efron are charming in this feel-good film | Hollywood - Hindustan Times

Ricky Stanicky movie review: John Cena, Zac Efron are charming in this sweet feel-good film

ByDevansh Sharma
Mar 07, 2024 06:05 AM IST

Ricky Stanicky movie review: The mistaken identity film stars John Cena as a guy who doesn't exist and is conjured up by Zac Efron and his friends.

Ricky Stanicky movie review: On the face of it, Peter Farrelly's comedy offers a crossover not many would have seen coming. Days after wrestling it out in The Iron Claw, Zac Efron shares the screen space with none other than WWE superstar John Cena. However, you'd come to this movie for the casting, but stay back for its sweet, feel-good story.

Ricky Stanicky movie review: Zac Efron and John Cena are charming in this feel-good film
Ricky Stanicky movie review: Zac Efron and John Cena are charming in this feel-good film

(Also Read – The Iron Claw movie review: Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White deliver a suplex to the heart, a power bomb to the soul)

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What's Ricky Stanicky about?

During a childhood prank gone wrong, Dean (Zac) invents the name of Ricky Stanicky to save himself from the cops. From that day, the name sticks with Dean and his two pals and the bro code is that Ricky Stanicky is “the best friend they never had.” They often use him as a cover to get away from adulting, even from their respective partners. But when they're cornered into confessing that their friend doesn't exist, they hire a hopeless actor, Rod (John), to play Ricky Stanicky.

What works

It's an exciting premise with very slim chances of it going wrong. And it doesn't. Six years after winning an Oscar for the more ruminating Green Book, Peter Farelly returns to his rom-com roots. Sans his partner-in-crime Bobby Farrelly (they co-directed the Dumb and Dumber franchise), Peter proves that his command over fleshing out characters and building situational comedy is still intact.

To help him out there is his actor from the 2022 directorial The Greatest Beer Run Ever, Zac Efron. He's been coming of age ever since his breakthrough with High School Musical in 2006, but Zac still finds a way to make his graph look fresh and relatable. At 36, he's still got the youthful charm of the Zac Efron from 15 years ago. He may not have to go all Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile here; Ricky Stanicky is his comfort zone and he makes the homecoming look convincing each time.

John Cena, on the other hand, brings the electrifying personality that a character with mistaken identity demands. His mic work back in early WWE days are proof that the actor shoots zingers like a pro. It's also refreshing to see a tough guy not be afraid to poke fun at himself – John Cena can be spotted doing everything outrageous – from mimicking pop icons on stage with a porno touch to praying for mercy in an impromptu bout when Dean hits him… with a light slap.

What doesn't work

Unlike the great mistaken identity movies like Chris Columbus' 1993 cult Mrs Doubtfire, Ricky Stanicky fails to be memorable both as a character and a movie. Of course, John Cena isn't a patch on Robin Williams, but even co-writers Jeffrey Bushell, Brian Jarvis, and James Lee Freeman struggle to infuse even a single personality trait that holds recall value. Ricky Stanicky is entertaining as long as he's on our screen? But will we miss him? Do we want him to be a real person, and not just an invented one? Not really.

Unfortunately, Ricky Stanicky also suffers from the classic handicap of giving the black sideguy a short shrift. Sure, Jermaine Fowler gets an arc of his own. He's a gay man who struggles to be as productive as his partner. He keeps blaming all his personal and professional shortcomings on Ricky Stanicky, but unlike Dean, isn't in denial and knows he needs to get out of that rabbit hole. And he does, thanks to Rod. But his resolution is relegated to the end-credits as Dean is made to steal the spotlight.

Ricky Stanicky has been in the making for 14 years. The previous choices for the titular role included the likes of James Franco, Joacquin Phoenix, and even Jim Carrey. It's easy to imagine Ricky Stanicky as a better, if not a great movie, had any of them would've been the eventual pick. But in the hands of John Cena, Ricky Stanicky remains fun as long as it lasts. And for everything it lacked, it can blame that on a mischievous (imaginary) friend.

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