Sarah Adina Smith’s new film is delightfully awkward, elevated by a cast of comedy all-stars.
Disaster vacation films are a dime dozen. Audiences see a sun-drenched location and they know – something is afoot. Nonetheless, Hulu is looking to join the genre with their newest, The Drop. Directed by Sarah Adina Smith, The Drop follows a group of friends as they gather for a destination wedding, only to have a shocking incident disturb the celebration. The Drop may not reinvent the “trip gone wrong” trope. Still, its stellar cast and sharp director know how to dig deep to find the weird unease hanging around friends on vacation.
The film follows couple Lex (Anna Konkle) and Mani (Jermaine Fowler) as they journey alongside fellow couple friends Shauna (Robin Thede) and Robbie (Itkarsh Ambudkar). They’re all headed to the destination wedding of pals Mia (Aparna Nancherla) and Peggy (Jennifer Lafleur), hosted by their resort owner buddies Josh (Joshua Leonard) and Lindsey (Jillian Bell). However, their idyllic reunion soon becomes a nightmare when Lex accidentally drops Mia and Peggy’s baby. As a result, old wounds burst open amongst the group, throwing the friends’ and couples’ futures into treacherous terrain.
The cast of The Drop is chock full of comedic stars. Konkle and Fowler are wonderful. They well capture how Lex’s mistake has their relationship teetering. Thede and Ambudkar are hilarious as the elitist Los Angeles power couple pondering using “the drop” for Shauna’s hit television show. Not to be outdone, Nancherla and Lafleur have a bristling chemistry as Mia’s shifting political stances (she legally brought a gun to their wedding and added Joe Rogan’s podcast to their Spotify account) are putting a strain on their impending nuptials. Finally, Bell and Leonard kill as the aloof ex-pat resort owners in way over their heads. There are zany asides with each couple throughout that are pure fun. The highlight, however, is the rehearsal dinner. It’s a comical feast with each performer bouncing off each other as the weekend derails into a hot mess.
Before this, Director Sarah Adina Smith had already built a successful career working on indie darling features like Buster’s Mal Heart and episodes of Legion and Room 104. Here she brings her indie charm, pulling at the tension as the friends reconcile after the incident. For example, there’s a particular scene with the group on a boat. As each couple slowly unravels, Mani eventually literally jumps ship. It’s an odd moment coming after he’s held it together so well as Lex recovered from the humiliation of the drop. Adina Smith wisely doesn’t play it for laughs, though. Instead, it unfolds matter-of-factly, drawing on the insecurities in his relationship with Lex.
[The Drop’s] stellar cast and sharp director know how to dig deep to find the weird unease hanging around friends on vacation.
While The Drop is an interesting premise for a screenplay (penned by Adina Smith and Leonard), it is not flawless. There’s a clumsy storyline involving Shauna’s adopted son, Levi (Elisha Henig). Henig’s performance as a gross teen influencer with incel-like tendencies is spot-on, his character gets lost among the adult friends’ more compelling drama and laughs.
A more significant issue is the lack of clarity regarding how all the friends connect. For example, Lex apparently used to date Mia and Robbie, but those past relationships only get passing mention. While the actors have charm enough to perform as long-standing friends, a little more backstory may have better defined some allegiances.
Ultimately, The Drop offers little new when it comes to disaster vacation films. Nonetheless, there’s still plenty to enjoy about a familiar film journey, especially in the company of this comedic cast. Let’s hope that director Sarah Adina Smith takes more trips into the comedy landscape. She’s got a chilling sense of humor and an eye for the macabre lurking in the sunniest of places.
The Drop gets all fumble fingers on Hulu starting January 13.