A few years ago, every movie studio wanted the next Bridesmaids. Last year they chased the success of Rough Night and Girls Trip. Netflix's Ibiza will be compared to all three, but it also reveals the secret: There will never be enough of these movies.
Directed by Alex Richanbach, Ibiza is a welcome newbie in this movie tradition, ostensibly with nothing new to bring to the table. But three excellent leads with effortless chemistry and a hilarious script make it the perfect friend-caper-slash-rom-com to start your summer.
The plot is blissfully simple: Harper (Gillian Jacobs) is sent to Barcelona to court an important client for her PR company. Her girlfriends Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) and Leah (Phoebe Robinson) tag along to make a getaway of it, despite Harper's protests.
On their first night in Barcelona, Harper spots Leo (Richard Madden), a super hot night club D.J. They hit it off; one weakness of the film might be that it's unclear what they see in each other, but they're both kind of dorks who aren't sure how to act on apparent intial attraction. The actors have sufficient chemistry to make you want to see them back in the same room again, stat. Lauryn Kahn's quick-witted script punches up every interaction, and it doesn't hurt to hear Madden in his natural Scottish brogue.
After the requisite meet-cute, Leo has to go on stage, and the ladies end up at an after-party where he's supposed to be in attendance. They kill time and do drugs to distract from Harper's mounting anxiety; Nikki entertains herself texting and eventually calling Harper's client in the area, and Leah gets into some literal hot water with a married man (Sense8's Miguel Ángel Silvestre).
Richard Madden as dreamy D.J. Leo, frosted tips and all.
Image: ALEKSANDAR LETIC/netflix
Robinson gets some hilarious and snappy one-liners, and Leah is largely a product of the actress's own effervescent personality, and Jacobs plays the straight girl with aplomb (a more distilled version of Britta from Community).
One could argue that the breakout is Bayer, whose character could easily have been annoying-bordering-on-dead weight. In the hands of the SNL vet, Nikki is an almost elegant blend of endearing and oblivious. Collectively, they form a beautiful unit; there's not a fight to behold throughout the film, and the final act's face-saving set piece is wonderful comedy and friendship goals to boot.
“In a great rom-com, when they really work, it’s because there are two romances going on,” Richanbach said in a Netflix press release. “There’s one that is the friendship storyline and the other is the romance. And this had the opportunity to be both.”
Phoebe Robinson, Gillian Jacobs, and Vanessa Bayer in 'Ibiza.'
Image: ALEKSANDAR LETIC/netflix
The girls learn that Leo has another gig that night in Ibiza, so they hop a last minute flight to chase love dick. Yes, in addition to a story about friendship and love, this movie is also a hero's quest; they have to make it back to Barcelona by the next morning or Harper loses her job.
We’re not interested in Harper’s super important work meeting, and we’re not expected to be interested. Instead of treating it as life-or-death, the film sells it through her acerbic boss (Michaela Watkins) and Harper’s own dictation to her friends that they are going to party all night and suck it up in the morning – and what semi-functional adult hasn’t shared the experience of balling too hard one night and struggling stoically through work the next morning?
Ibiza works because it knows exactly what it is. It doesn’t bother weighing the characters down with too many problems or backstory, because the realer it gets, the less fun we have. When Harper does try to tell someone about her sexual dry spell and her difficult boss, her friends immediately cut to stop the oversharing. Nobody cares, they point out; they came to Spain to escape any baggage they may have had, and their wild night out exists in a vacuum for us.
Filled with pool parties, club music (one scene has perhaps the best use ever of "Despacito"), and regular doses of sex and humor, Ibiza is the best trip you can take this weekend.
Ibiza is now streaming on Netflix.