Film Review: Ibiza

Film Review: Ibiza

When Netflix announced it was dropping a new female-focused comedy starring Love’s Gillian Jacobs at the end of May, we were excited. However, after pressing play, sadly it didn't live up to the hype, thanks to its cringe-worthy capers and paper-thin plot. But it's not all bad. Read on for the SL lowdown…

What’s the concept?

Early 30-something New Yorker, Harper, is stuck in a demanding PR agency job she hates. That is until her boss (who makes The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly look positively saintly) decides to send her to Barcelona on a business trip to win a pitch for a sangria brand. Excited by the prospect of impressing her employer, Harper jumps at the chance – as do her two best friends, Nikki and Leah, who insist on accompanying her on the trip.

Herein lies the plot – three American girls hit Barcelona and all it has to offer: strong weed, the baking-hot beach and handsome older men. That is, until Harper falls for superstar DJ Leo West. Numbers exchanged, but with no phone battery, Harper and the girls decide to hop over to Ibiza to reunite the pair for a night of passion. Oh, and they must be back in Barcelona by 10am the next morning for the big meeting with that sangria company. Surely nothing could go wrong…

Who stars?

The film’s standout is the understated Gillian Jacobs, who plays Harper. Best known as playing self-confessed screw-up Mickey in Love, Britta in Community and Adam’s irritatingly perfect girlfriend Mimi-Rose Howard in Girls, Jacobs certainly has pulling power when it comes to this film’s core audience. Her wingwomen are played by Saturday Night Live’s Vanessa Bayer as Nikki and Phoebe Robinson (2 Dope Queens) as Leah, while the hunky Leo is none other than Games of Thrones’ Richard Madden – in his natural Scottish tones.

Ibiza is directed by Alex Richanbach (who worked on We Were Young and Stepbrothers), and produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay – so it should have funny written all over it. However, this one’s a little light on laughs.

Will I like it?

As we get to know Harper it’s clear that she’s stuck in a rut, something of an over-sharer and someone who knows her way around a cool, laid-back wardrobe. So far, so Mickey. But where this film deviates from Jacob’s more recent roles is the focus on a tight-knit and supportive friendship group. It may be light on backstory (all we know about Nikki is she’s a dentist, while Leah is a freelance something), yet this film’s strongest pull is that despite all the ‘calamities’ that befall them, the girls never argue once.

Something of a rite of passage for Brits (there's an amazing scene featuring three 'lads' on the plane), Ibiza seems like a mythical land to our trio of Americans; as soon as their plane touches down, the girls enjoy sunsets, shots and sex (another of the film’s pros is how thoroughly sex-positive it is – no one is slut-shamed or discouraged from pursuing partners, and it doesn’t shy away from showing a variety of breasts in all their glory).

Yet their misadventures are always predictable and don’t do much to support the thin plot: someone gets stoned and falls off a bed, there’s some serious sunburn on day one (which transforms from lobster-red to tanned and glowing in mere hours), Nikki does some zany dancing after taking drugs, and gags revolve around bird poo, dick drawings and cum stains. This, paired with some unsubtle song choices (New York New York as the film opens with a scene of, you guessed it, The Big Apple), some seriously hammy acting from Harper’s boss (shouty, sweary, not an ounce of nuance) and a neatly wrapped-up ending, makes for an unsatisfying story with not that many laughs.

That said, it's not all bad: we'd give it a solid 6/10. If you're in the mood for a mindless hour and a half, or you've got a gruelling session at the gym planned, this will make the perfect companion. The soundtrack – filled with club classics – will also make you want to go out immediately. You've been warned. 

Ibiza is available to watch on Netflix now.

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