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Netflix Review: Gillian Jacobs' 'Ibiza' Is a Frivolous But Somewhat Pleasant Vacation Comedy

By Dustin Rowles | Streaming | June 19, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | Streaming | June 19, 2018 |


The Netflix original movie Ibiza is a whole lot of nothing. It’s sometimes charming, occasionally funny (mostly thanks to Vanessa Bayer), and always likable, and yet it is also a 90-minute excursion into nothingness. It barely even registers as a movie; it’s more like a semi-scripted home video of someone else’s vacation, and while those someone elses are Bayer, Gillian Jacobs, and Phoebe Robinson, the allure of the leads is barely enough to sustain the non-existent plot.

Ibiza sees Harper (Jacobs), a generic PR rep, take a work trip to Spain to close a deal with a client. Her two best friends, Leah (Robinson) and Nikki (Bayer) decide to tag along and transform a work trip into a drinking-and-fucking vacation. Bayer falls hard for a handsome Spaniard, and they spend much of the film drunk-texting; Leah sleeps with a different guy each night of the trip; and Harper becomes smitten with a DJ, Leo (Richard Madden) whom she meets at a club after he pulls her aside to wipe off a dick someone had drawn on her face with a black-light pen.

The through-line is Harper’s crush on Leo, which takes the threesome to the vacation island of Ibiza, which sees them spend a wild couple of hours with a cab driver before they wind back up at a club, which offers one of several EDM interludes (these can easily be fast-forwarded through) before Harper and Leo eventually connect.

Ibiza is largely a film built on banter, and in that respect, it feels a lot like hanging out with three drunk people for an entire weekend, which is to say: It vacillates between funny and annoying, and sometimes both. Bayer gets the plum Melissa McCarthy/Tiffany Haddish role, and in that respect, steals most of her scenes. Phoebe Robinson — who co-hosts 2 Dope Queens with Jessica Williams — is a very funny person, who is not given very much to work with, while Jacobs is largely muted, weirdly boxed in as the romantic lead. She spends most of the movie either whining about her job or mooning over Leo. She and Madden then spend their scenes awkwardly flirting, while also making a much bigger deal about their romance than they should for a couple who have only known each other for a few minutes.

I wish there were more to say about Ibiza, because it’s the type of movie — an inexpensive comedy that showcases the talents of a likable cast — that I really appreciate Netflix for making, but there’s just nothing to latch on to here. It’s not at all an unpleasant movie, it’s just one that drifts from one party and hook-up to another, without ever really stopping to say or do anything of note. It is because Ib-iz(a).

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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