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‘Ibiza’: Film Review

Gillian Jacobs, Vanessa Bayer and Phoebe Robinson play friends on a sex- and drugs-filled Spanish vacation in this raunchy comedy.

Even by the lax standards of raunchy sex comedies, the Netflix original movie Ibiza proves distinctly underwhelming. Depicting the sex- and drug-fueled misadventures of a trio of thirtysomething female friends on a jaunt to the titular location, this effort, whose producers include Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, all too realistically conveys the feeling of spending a night clubbing under the influence of illicit substances. It’s mildly enjoyable while you’re watching it, but as with all such outings, you’ll have a hard time remembering it the next day.

The film, directed by Alex Richanbach, begins promisingly enough with a scene depicting a meeting between harried publicist Harper (Gillian Jacobs, of Community and Netflix’s Love) and her tyrannical, obnoxious boss (Michaela Watkins, hilariously over the top) who informs Harper that she’s being sent to Barcelona to woo a prospective client.

When they hear about her business trip, Harper’s best friends Nikki (Vanessa Bayer, Saturday Night Live) and Leah (Phoebe Robinson, 2 Dope Queens) inform her that they’re coming along and making it a girls’ vacation. The ensuing hard partying at a lavish mansion to which they’ve been invited features plenty of debauchery, which Harper refrains from. But when the group winds up dancing to EDM in a raucous club, she finds herself immediately attracted to the hunky superstar DJ, Leo (Richard Madden, Game of Thrones). They meet cute when Harper eagerly takes Leo up on his beckoning offer to join him backstage, only to discover that he wants to wipe off the penis drawing, visible only in black light, that’s been surreptitiously drawn on her face. (Speaking of black light, it fuels one of the film’s few truly effective gags, when Nikki and Leah use one in their hotel room with horrifying results).

Harper promptly ditches her work plans and takes up Leo on his offer to go with him to Ibiza for his next gig, but that and other plot elements are mere excuses for a series of wacky gags involving the women letting their freak flags fly while the soundtrack blares such songs as “Despacito.” The movie’s shtick extends to a host of tired gags such as Nikki getting horrifically sunburned at the beach and getting pooped on by seagulls when she sticks her head out of the roof of a limo.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some laughs to be had. Bayer, in particular, mines her character’s irrational exuberance for all it’s worth, managing to be funny even while simply walking on a treadmill in a cocktail dress. Robinson is no comic slouch either, and Jacobs uses her wide-eyed adorableness to appealing effect even if we never feel any emotional investment in whether her repressed character gets to let go.

Ibiza ultimately feels like a concept in search of a script, too often filling its running time with endless scenes of its characters frenziedly dancing to deafening electronic music. Lauryn Kahn’s screenplay works best in its quieter moments, when the three main characters banter in a relaxed, semi-improvised fashion that makes it easy to believe they’re friends. In a ramshackle comedy such as this, that’s no small accomplishment.

Production: Gary Sanchez Productions, Good Universe
Distributor: Netflix
Cast: Gillian Jacobs, Vanessa Bayer, Phoebe Robinson, Richard Madden, Michaela Watkins, Jordi Molla
Director: Alex Richanbach
Screenwriter: Lauryn Kahn
Producers: Will Ferrell, Nathan Kahane, Adam McKay, Kevin Messick, Erin Westerman
Executive producers: Kelli Konop, Lauryn Kahn
Director of photography: Daniel Moder
Production designer: Kevin Phipps
Editor: Josh Salzberg
Composer: Jeff Morrow
Costume designer: Alison McCosh
Casting: Allison Jones, Olivia Scott-Webb

104 min.

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