Hollywood is at a loss at what to do with the romantic comedy. Aside from films such as Bridesmaids, A League of Their Own, The Devil Wears Prada and especially last year’s smash hit Girls Trip, the sexist nature of the movie making machine refuses to be confident in storytelling in this genre that reaches beyond predictable – not trusting female audiences to seek out films outside of what’s been force fed to them (it’s why the indie scene is doing so terrifically when it comes to the genre). All of these films have unique writing, standout performances, an interesting story and even the slightest hint of crafted filmmaking to make these movies unique against their competitors. Even just a pinch of investment into making a legitimately special movie instead of following tropes could make for something fun.
Speaking of happy endings to a night, here’s a movie about two nights in Spain that ended really well for three women: stressed out PR agent Harper (Gillian Jacobs) and her two best friends Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) and Leah (Phoebe Robinson). Harper is sent to Barcelona for a three-day work trip by her stingy boss (Michaela Watkins), but she and her two besties decide to spend the weekend partying. Harper even has chemistry with a handsome DJ (Richard Madden), who is partying in Ibiza the next night. So Harper and co. jet off into liquor-filled shenanigans in the hopes of getting laid and letting loose.
Ibiza is directed by Alex Richanbach and written by Lauryn Kahn, two veterans of Funny Or Die. Which makes sense considering that the movie and its performers treat the whole like an elongated Funny Or Die sketch. Not that it’s a knock against the actors, as everyone from the three leads to the most minor or supporting characters elevate the movie’s carefree atmosphere. No one drags the movie down and even when the three leads have moments where they improv or mimic trendy dialogue because they’re “besties,” it’s brief and the movie picks right back up on its momentum. Even the cinematography by Daniel Moder (The Normal Heart, Secret in Their Eyes) is noticeably impressive if not reminiscent of Springs Breakers. The comedy isn’t too lowbrow either, mostly just witty observational humor of three fishes out of water filled with EDM, drugs, half-naked women and sexy Spanish men they want to screw. The movie doesn’t belittle the three leads for being out of their element either, giving them each eye candy to mack on and drink with while still subjecting themselves to laughs at their own expense.
Whatever laughs the movie gets is from its three leads. Jacobs seems like the straight man throughout the movie’s wackiness, with her droll awkwardness acting as the punchline to her eating sushi off of a naked woman’s body. Jacobs has a grounded quality to her personality where it’s easy to relate to her stressed demeanor and difficult attempts to be casual in a very loose environment, but she’s not devoid of silliness. But most of the outright goofiness of the movie comes from Bayer and Robinson who bounce off of each other very well, Bayer in particular using her expressive face and voice to yuk her way through the movie. Even Watkins makes a strong impression in her four scenes in the movie.
For what is essentially a 90-minute J Balvin music video with comedic interludes, Ibiza is a surprisingly solid comedy. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and instead has the right amount of humor and heartfelt character interaction fill in the blanks. It’s a shame that this is another Netflix original that will probably be buried by the overload of content on the streaming service because Ibiza is most definitely worth seeking out.