Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I Took A Pill To Ibiza

Year: 2018
Director: Alex Richanbach
Cast: Gillian Jacobs, Vanessa Bayer, Phoebe Robinson
Run Time: 1 hour 34 minutes

Netflix is swiftly hemorrhaging credibility with a lot of their creative choices lately, but a quick and easy way to cauterize that wound is to stop making feature films. Sure, if we eliminated that department, we wouldn't get Gerald's Game or Okja, but I'd gladly trade those titles if it meant we could stop Adam Sandler's latest string of hate crimes against the art form, or whatever the hell Bright was supposed to be. As you can probably guess from these ruminations, the Netflix original film Ibiza, she was not too good.

For one thing, it should have been titled "Croatia," because ain't nobody got Spain budgets here.

In Ibiza, three best gal friends head to... Ibiza. Stick-in-the-mud Harper (Gillian Jacobs) has been sent on assignment by her boss (Michaela Watkins) at a PR firm to land a sangria account (yeah, sure), and her two roommates have insisted on tagging along: Leah (Phoebe Robinson) is The Black One and Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) is Vanessa Bayer. The girls drag Harper to a club, where they meet Leo West (Richard Madden), a Scottish man who is so hot that it's not even a dealbreaker that he's an EDM DJ.

Some sort of bland hijinks ensue (the only upside of these being that we get to see a shirtless Miguel Ángel Silvestre, who is objectively the most attractive man in the world) which prevent their planned meeting, so the girls conspire to meet him at his concert in Ibiza the next night, even though Harper has an incredibly important meeting the following morning. Can they have their debauchery cake and eat it too?

And does anybody care?

I don't mean to be too harsh on the movie, but it certainly invites it: Ibiza is like a textbook on exactly what's wrong with modern comedy filmmaking. It's abnormally focused on partying as both humor and plot point (it is neither), the script largely doesn't exist because the film is mostly improv, and the title is f**king boring as sh*t. The current films from the Apatow family can sometimes still be strong in spite of these limitations, but let's just say that Ibiza doesn't have the same strong guiding hand at the wheel as a Paul Feig or even a Nicholas Stoller.

In fact, Ibiza might be the closest a comedy has come to not even being a movie at all. It's more like a basic white girl posting a vacation video on YouTube. Let me paint you a picture of almost every scene in the movie: two to three women and maybe (hopefully) a shirtless man babble incoherently at each other for three minutes, the awkward pauses in their improvised dialogue absolutely not being smoothed over by the film's utter lack of score, until an EDM song cranks up and we pan across shots of random revelers jumping up and down for about ninety seconds until the next scene can begin. That's about all we get.

Luckily, one of those improvisers is Vanessa Bayer, the secret weapon of the past several seasons of SNL. Her comedy is of a quieter, subtler sort than her cohort Kate McKinnon, who probably could have saved a movie like this with her surreally manic energy, but it's always pleasant to be around. She at least drags Ibiza onto a track of potentially being redeemed for existing in the first place. 

With great comic power comes great responsibility.

And that's not to say anything bad about Gillian Jacobs or Phoebe Robinson, but the former is forced into a heterosexual comedy of romantic fumblings that the movie assumes we care about because they're hot and white, and the latter has literally not a single character trait to grapple with. They wander through the movie with flashlights, searching desperately for anything that might be funny. They occasionally trip over something charming, and that's exactly where Ibiza finds its almost subliminal thrum of pleasantness.

There is something to praise about the movie, I suppose, though naturally it's faint praise. As a story about women with sex drives, directed by a gay man, there is plenty of male objectification and (possibly) more importantly, a vigorously progressive approach to sex, flirtation, and consent. Those things don't make a masterpiece, but it's like watching a bad movie while wrapped in a warm blanket. It's not good, but it's comfortable, and sometimes that's enough.

TL;DR: Ibiza is a noodly non-movie that's vaguely charming and that's all it has to lean on.
Rating: 3/10
Word Count: 765

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