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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

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John Cena and Zac Efron Talk ‘Ricky Stanicky’


The R-rated comedy “Ricky Stanicky” hit streaming Mar. 7 on Prime Video. Directed by Peter Farrelly, the star-studded film is a bawdy delight with some surprisingly sincere moments, so long as you’re not stuck searching for the deeper meaning.

To avoid getting into trouble, childhood friends Dean (Zac Efron), Wes (Jermaine Fowler) and JT (Andrew Santino) invent a fourth member of their group, christened “Ricky Stanicky,” to take the blame. Over the years, the imaginary Ricky goes from a fall guy for mischief to a repeated excuse for the three men to spend time away from their partners, but their story begins to unravel when JT’s wife goes into labor six weeks early and forces the trio to cut their latest trip short.

At a Feb. 12 press conference with student journalists, including yours truly, stars John Cena and Efron discussed their takeaways from the film and shared some behind-the-scenes details.

Efron explained how the premise added an extra layer of difficulty to making the main trio sympathetic.

“These guys are really telling a rather big lie, and it’s hard to pull that off and still like the characters and root for them at the end,” Efron said. “And I think that’s what Pete Farrley does so well in this movie, is he toes the line where these guys are doing it out of loyalty and love for one another and to protect each other.”

Whether his motives stem from loyalty or fear, Dean is unwilling to fess up when given the opportunity. Instead, he doubles down on the lie and hires X-rated rock ’n’ roll impersonator “Rock Hard Rod” (Cena), whom he met in a casino bar, to pretend to be Ricky at the new baby’s Bris. But when Rod ultimately takes to the role like a duck to water, the entire ruse threatens to come crumbling down.

Standing between Rod, the alcoholic aspiring actor, and Ricky, the supposed world-class humanitarian, is a rocky adjustment period that makes up the most entertaining stretch of the film. Though Rod’s act is only shown briefly, his adult impersonations of celebrities like Billy Idol, Boy George and Britney Spears mean that Cena shows off a variety of outfits and voices in quick succession.

“When he does that line of impressions, we were off camera just losing it,” Efron said. “My favorite one is just from the time you put on that Britney Spears outfit and everything that transpires in that moment.”

Cena said he agreed that the Spears impression was a highlight.

“Thank goodness I didn’t have to do the entire dance number from ‘Baby One More Time,’ but I could rock the schoolgirl outfit,” he joked.

The script had several other moments where the actors said they found it hard to keep a straight face, including Dean’s protracted scuffle with an irate duck in a golf course pond. 

“It was hard to fight that duck,” Efron said.

(He clarified that no animals were harmed in the making of the movie.)

In another scene, the trio goes to the airport to meet Rod, who’s sweating profusely from alcohol withdrawal and appears to start urinating in his sweatpants. “Don’t worry, it’s not what you think,” he assures the horrified onlookers. “It’s just piss.” 

Cena said the line was difficult to deliver without breaking, and Efron agreed. 

“It was hard for us too, because he just improvised it,” Efron said.

When I expressed my delight with the shirt Rod wears in that scene, a black tee with white text reading “I DON’T TRUST SOUP,” the actors told me it was directly inspired by Farrelly. 

“That’s Pete’s real shirt,” Efron said. 

“He wears it all the time,” Cena added. “That is taken from his wardrobe.”

From Wes’s ridiculous earflap beanie/grandma robe combo to Rod’s ivory slouch hat, the wardrobe is one area where the film excels, fully leaning into its silly premise. It looks like a movie where the costume department had a blast, and I told Cena so when I asked about his favorite looks.

“My takeaway from your question is that old phrase, ‘it takes a village,’” Cena said, making sure to credit the movie’s whole team. “I really appreciate you identifying and showing respect to our makeup department and our costume department and our hair department, because without that effort, the impressions are just me trying my best to contort my face.”

Despite its humorous absurdities, the film scrapes together some surprisingly touching story beats. Rod’s journey is an entertaining exploration of truth, identity and second chances that’s bolstered by Cena’s total commitment to the bit, while Dean’s arc of learning to finally be honest with those he loves makes for a satisfying B plot. 

“The story of the transformation from Rod to Ricky is one that is very close to my heart because my life is just a serendipitous bunch of happy accidents,” Cena said. “I wasn’t supposed to be a wrestler. I certainly wasn’t supposed to be here. I didn’t train my whole life for these things.”

Cena also spoke to the importance of acknowledging areas of growth and working toward self-improvement.

“I still have a lot to learn, I still seek out wisdom every day, I still know I’m not perfect,” Cena said. “But the takeaway I’d love you to have is: if you’re loving what you do, just mix it with a whole lot of perseverance and you never know what can happen.”

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About the Contributor
Jasmine Criqui
Jasmine Criqui, Senior Guide Editor
Jasmine Criqui is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences from San Diego, Calif., studying government and history with a minor in journalism. She has read the Wikipedia summary for “Citizen Kane.” [email protected]

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