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Ibiza (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 24, 2023


IBIZA (2018)

Starring Gillian Jacobs, Vanessa Bayer, Phoebe Robinson, Richard Madden, Michaela Watkins, Augustus Prew, Humphrey Ker, Anthony Welsh, Félix Gómez, Jordi Mollà, Nelson Dante, Anjela Nedyalkova, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Marina Salas, Tea Vracic, Bojan Ban, Tara Thaller, Marko Paradzik, Ivan Devcic, Bozena Bilanovic and Petar Cvirn.

Screenplay by Lauryn Kahn.

Directed by Alex Richanbach.

Distributed by Netflix. 104 minutes. Rated TV-MA.

When Netflix announced that they were going to be releasing 80 original films in 2018, averaging more than one a week, you had to wonder what the quality control would be like. After all, that’s a whole lot of movies (by comparison, Disney, Paramount and Warner Brothers are supposed to release 11 films each in 2018). They can’t all be good, can they? Five months in, some have been pretty good, some have been pretty bad, some have been horrible, some have completely slipped through the cracks.

Ibiza is one of the better ones that I’ve seen so far (and, granted, I’ve only seen seven or eight of the probably more than 30 that have been released so far). Not that Ibiza is a great film, it’s a pretty standard variety romantic comedy with large dashes of EDM and ecstasy. However, it has a terrific trio of comic actresses at its core, and they probably make the movie better than it should be.

First off is the always-intriguing Gillian Jacobs (Community), who has some Netflix experience as the female lead of the terrific streaming series Love. Jacobs is essentially the main character here, and after a series of films in which she usually is there for comic support, it’s nice to see her getting the lead role.

Jacobs plays Harper, a low-level New York advertising exec who gets her big break, a business trip to Barcelona to sell a Spanish liquor company on their firm. Harper’s shrewish boss (Michaela Watkins) openly acknowledges she is not getting the opportunity due to her talent, but the Spanish guys are always horny, and Harper has a vagina. This screenplay was obviously greenlit in the pre #MeToo days.

Harper’s two best gal pals – Nikki (Vanessa Bayer from Saturday Night Live) and Leah (Portlandia writer Phoebe Robinson) – don’t care about the reason, all they know is it’s a trip to Spain. They cajole Harper into trading her business class ticket for three coaches and letting them crash in her surprisingly large hotel room.

They go, spending the days on the beach and the nights in the clubs. Of course, they all lose all inhibitions, experiment in drinks, drugs, sex and debauchery. And of course, all three of them meet gorgeous European guys, and usually have lots of fallback choices, too.

Annie’s guy is an interesting anomaly. Leo West (played by Richard Madden of Game of Thrones) is a world-famous EDM DJ, smart, sexy, playing sold out shows in some of the biggest hotspots in the world. They meet kinda cute at a dance club – he calls her backstage to warn her that some guy drew a black-light penis on her face – and immediately fall for each other. It turns out the guy is shy and awkward with women and a huge romantic – which is not what you expect from a huge, respected music star with gorgeous women and groupies everywhere he looks. I’m not sure I believed him as a character, and yet it was kind of nice to see that they went so off type with the guy.

After they meet in a Barcelona club and miss each other at a huge party at a local millionaire’s mansion, Annie and her friends decide on a whim to fly to Ibiza, where Leo is playing the next day, even though Annie has the most important meeting in her business life the day after that.

It’s nothing you’ve never seen before, but the strong casting makes it better than it may have been otherwise. And the scenery in Barcelona and Ibiza is stunning.

It probably makes sense that Ibiza went straight to Netflix; its sweet and modest charms would have probably not made a huge splash in the multiplexes, making it likely that people would just discover it on Netflix anyway. Ibiza is not a movie that is going to change anyone’s life, however if you are looking for a movie with funny women, gorgeous scenery, banging electro music and a couple of surprisingly edgy drug scenes, you could do a whole hell of a lot worse.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: June 3, 2018.

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