Is Ricky Stanicky a Retelling of The Importance of Being Earnest?


Summary

  • In both Ricky Stanicky & The Importance of Being Earnest, fictional characters are used as alibis to avoid responsibilities & legal trouble.
  • The message of honesty & sincerity is a central theme in both stories, highlighting the consequences of deceit and the value of truth.
  • Ricky Stanicky presents a modern twist on the classic play, showcasing how the use of aliases can lead to humorous yet impactful lessons.



Directed by Peter Farrelly, Ricky Stanicky is a raunchy buddy comedy currently available to stream on Prime Video. The story follows three childhood friends who create a fictitious persona they use as a culprit to blame their problems on. As adults, Dean (Zac Efron), Wes (Jermaine Fowler), and JT (Andrew Santino) continue to use their made-up best friend, Ricky Stanicky, as a get-out-of-jail-free card until their significant others demand to meet Ricky in person.

Although Ricky Stanicky is not adapted from preexisting source material and is based on an original screenplay, many have noted the similarities between the basic plot and Oscar Wilde’s classic 1895 stage play, The Importance of Being Earnest. In both stories, the main characters use a similar social ploy to avoid legal trouble and reputational harm, ultimately learning that honesty is the best policy. To see how much the two stories are alike, it’s time to compare the story, structure, and characters in Ricky Stanicky to The Importance of Being Earnest.



What Is The Importance of Being Earnest?

Introduced in 1895 in London, The Importance of Being Earnest is a stage play by Oscar Wilde. The comedic farce has similarities with the new Prime Video original movie and involves a wayward young man named Algernon Moncrieff and his best friend, Jack Worthing. When Jack arrives at Algernon’s home to marry his cousin, Gwendolyn, Algernon refuses and forces Jack to explain why one of his belongings bears the name Cecily. Jack explains that he lives a double life and has developed an alter ego named Ernest. At first, Jack pretends that Ernest is his brother who needs his assistance in London. In reality, Jack and Earnest are the same person.


Upon learning about Jack’s ruse, Algernon confesses that he has been using a similarly deceptive ploy. Algernon explains that he has created a fictional being called Bunbury, a fabricated friend whom he can call upon at any time to visit a remote part of the country to avoid personal and professional obligations. Algernon also explains that Bunbury is chronically ill, and his ailment serves as a common excuse for Bunbury to avoid social responsibilities. Algernon uses Bunbury as an excuse to avoid events he does not want to participate in, especially Jack and Gwendolyn’s wedding. The grand plan eventually backfires when Algernon and Jack pose as Ernest at once.

How “Bunburying” is Used in Ricky Stanicky


In The Importance of Being Earnest, “Bunburying” refers to a scheme used by people seeking to get out of pre-arranged plans and avoid attending events they want no part of. In the Prime Video comedy Ricky Stanicky, “Bunburying” is replaced by Ricky Stanicky, a made-up childhood friend created by Dean, Wes, and JT. The trio created the alias after accidentally lighting a neighbor’s house on fire on Halloween as kids. To avoid getting into trouble for the vandalism, the trio left the name Ricky Stanicky behind. The police believed the ruse and began looking for a boy named Ricky Stanicky.


After realizing they got away with their crime, the trio continues to use the Ricky Stanicky alias as a “Bunburying” strategy well into adulthood. The ploy continues to work as Dean, Wes, and JT avoid attending the latter’s baby shower to attend a concert in Atlantic City. The trio explains their friend Ricky Stanicky has cancer, and he has arranged a surprise party for them that they cannot get out of. The scam works and the three friends have a wonderful night together. While in Atlantic City, they meet a performer named Rock-Hard Rod (John Cena), who hilariously sings X-rated cover songs of hit singles as his profession.

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At this point in the movie, the similarities between Ricky and Bunbury are clear. Both are fictitious characters described with severe ailments that prevent them from traveling, much less attending social events. Moreover, these fictional characters are aliases perpetually used as alibis to avoid culpability by those who created them. The parallels become even clearer once Ricky Stanicky is forced to arrive in person in the movie.


After the trio misses JT and his wife Susan’s baby shower, Ricky is invited to attend the baby’s Bris in person by Susan’s skeptical mother. Rather than come clean, Dean hires Rod to pose as Ricky Stanicky. Rod arrives and woos the crowd in an over-the-top performance as Ricky. The charade goes so well that Dean’s boss hires Ricky to present a sales pitch during a corporate merger. Eventually, the charade is too hard to keep up and Dean confesses that Ricky Stanicky has never been real. Dean explains how Ricky has been used for years to absolve them of their responsibilities, similar to how Bunbury was used in The Importance of Being Earnest.

The Message of Honesty & Sincerity Rings True in Each Story


In The Importance of Being Earnest, the Bunbury charade is exposed when Jack and Algernon use the alter-ego to court their lovers, Gwendolyn and Cecily. While this aspect of the Oscar Wilde play is largely omitted from Ricky Stanicky, it’s easy to see how some consider the movie a modern retelling of the play. In both cases, a fictionalized friend with a phony illness serves as an alibi to avoid social gatherings or prevent legal trouble. In the play, the primary event is a wedding. In the movie, the main event is a Bris. Moreover, the underlying message in both works stands out as the most significant connection.

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Note the homophonic similarity between the title of the play and the character of Ernest. The Importance of Being Earnest is a playful pun that connotes the character (Ernest) and the value of honesty and sincerity (Earnest). In both the play and the Zac Efron movie, the protagonists learn, through the folly of their lies and long-term social scheme, that honesty is the best policy, no matter what. Although it took embarrassing exposure for the characters to arrive at this realization, both stories underscore the value of being genuine or the importance of being earnest. Stream Ricky Stanicky on Prime Video and rent The Importance of Being Earnest on Apple TV.



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