Streaming highlights: Kevin Can F--k Himself and Vacation Friends

DARK PARODY: Schitt's Creek star Annie Murphy shines as the stereotypical sitcom wife in Kevin Can F--k Himself.

DARK PARODY: Schitt's Creek star Annie Murphy shines as the stereotypical sitcom wife in Kevin Can F--k Himself.

KEVIN CAN F--K HIMSELF

Amazon Prime

LAST year when Disney+ released WandaVision it briefly touched on the dark underbelly of '50s American sitcoms.

The aptly-titled Kevin Can F--K Himself goes the full hog, by ripping apart the deep-seated misogyny and classism at the heart of many US sitcoms during the '80s to 2000s such as Married With Children and The King Of Queens. The name Kevin is a non-too-subtle dig at The King Of Queens lead actor Kevin James.

Kevin Can F--K Himself essentially explores the reality of what life is like for a woman married to James' Doug Heffernan. That role is played by Schitt's Creek star Annie Murphy.

Allison (Murphy) is a working-class woman isolated and stuck in an unhappy marriage with her rude and obnoxious man child husband Kevin (Eric Petersen), who spends his time lazing around with his dad and neighbour partying and coming up with hair-brained schemes.

When Allison discovers Kevin has wasted their life savings, crushing her dream of buying a new house, she decides to kill him.

Central to the show is its use of the stereotypical sitcom shooting style and canned laughter whenever Kevin is in a scene. However when his character exits the scene, the grim, bleak reality of life for Allison is exposed. It makes for a darkly unsettling brand of humour, where Murphy shines as the downtrodden Allison.

Kevin Can F--K Himself will guarantee that you'll never watch those old working-class US sitcoms the same way again.

BUDDY FILM: Vacation Friends stars, from left, Meredith Hagner, Yvonne Orji, Lil Rel Howery and John Cena.

BUDDY FILM: Vacation Friends stars, from left, Meredith Hagner, Yvonne Orji, Lil Rel Howery and John Cena.

VACATION FRIENDS

Disney+

REMEMBER when you could go on an overseas holiday and you made new friends?

Not the type of people you would normally befriend at home, but someone you connect with through the ice-breaking thrill of adventure and shared experience.

Comedy Vacation Friends takes that notion to its extreme.

When intense and straight-laced Marcus' (Lil Rel Howery) tightly-engineered plan to propose to his partner Emily (Yvonne Orji) at a Mexican resort goes awry it introduces the pair to gregarious and thrilling-seeking couple Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner).

A hesitant Marcus and Emily are dragged along into Ron and Kyla's crazy drug and alcohol-fuelled adventures. Slowly Marcus and Emily loosen up and enjoy themselves, but when the holiday ends they vow to leave their friendship with Ron and Kyla back in Mexico.

That's until seven months later when Ron and a pregnant Kyla arrive unexpectedly at Marcus and Emily's conservative wedding.

Vacation Friends is hardly an original film and borrows broadly from the American comedy playbook, including films like Meet The Parents.

Where it succeeds, though, is the chemistry between Cena and Howery in what is essentially a mismatched buddy movie. Marcus and Ron are polar opposites. While race is never mentioned in the film, the casting of the African-American Howery and the white Cena was obviously chosen to further accentuate their differences.

Cena is best known as a WWE wrestler, but in Vacation Friends he displays his comedic timing as the lovable and sensitive party-loving Ron.

However, the first half of the film feels like merely an excuse to show off Cena's pecs.

Vacation Friends is light, funny, and essentially enjoyable. Classic popcorn viewing.

REVIEWS BY JOSH LEESON

This story Dark side of the American sitcom first appeared on The Canberra Times.