Movie Review: Girls Go Wild in ‘Ibiza’
When Harper (Gillian Jacobs) is sent to Barcelona on a business trip, her friends Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) and Leah (Phoebe Robinson) decide to tag along and have some fun on the beaches and in the clubs.
But when she meets gallant Scottish DJ Leo West (Richard Madden), Harper has to make a decision: chase after him to his next gig in Ibiza, or stick around in Barcelona and make sure she keeps her job. Because, you know, she’ll never get another chance to see him again.
That’s the gist of Ibiza, a new comedy streaming on Netflix that mixes sex, drugs, and a lot of EDM into its paper-thin premise of a trio of Americans getting their groove on in the popular European party locale.
Directed by Alex Richanbach from a script by Lauryn Kahn - both longtime Funny or Die veterans making their feature debut - Ibiza doesn’t exactly have a compelling narrative to drive its formulaic road movie-like structure.
But the film maintains at least some interest thanks to a trio of fun lead performances - lots of the film feels like it was left to Jacobs (star of Community and Netflix’s Love), SNL vet Bayer, and I Love Dick’s Robinson to riff and improvise their way through, and their loose scenes together give Ibiza some much-needed jolts of energy.
Ibiza features one of the strangest meet cutes you’ll see - Harper initially meets Leo West after the DJ scans the crowd and invites her up on stage… to remove a penis someone has drawn in invisible ink on her face. Afterwards, the mysterious Hernando (Jordi Mollà) invites the girls to his Barcelona house party for some raunchy fun with the promise that Leo will soon show up.
But fate and circumstance keep Harper and Leo apart. And because this movie is called Ibiza, you know where Harper and co. are headed next.
But despite being called Ibiza, the movie makes precious little use of the titular location. Scenes set on the island take place almost exclusively at night, and inside the clubs. Anyone looking to spend some time on the beaches of the popular party locale will be disappointed (ironically, Ibiza was primarily filmed in more budget-friendly locations in Serbia and Croatia).
EDM fans will also be disappointed at the pop-friendly choice of music in the film, but the extensive use of familiar tunes (Martin Garrix’s Animals and Calvin Harris' How Deep Is Your Love are paired with classics from Sinatra and David Bowie) helps keeps things light and bouncy (and reveals where a good chunk of Ibiza’s budget must have went).
Ibiza represents the kind of spring break sex comedy typically reserved for a male cast - each of the characters get the chance to hook up, multiple times, during the course of the film - and on that level it genuinely succeeds.
Only problem: those movies usually aren’t very good in the first place, and despite the gender reversal there’s little depth to Ibiza to elevate it above its brethren. But the film goes as far as its talented leads can carry it, and represents at least a mild background diversion.