Peter Farrelly In Talks With Zac Efron, John Cena For R-Rated Comedy Ricky Stanicky

EXCLUSIVE: In a Deadline interview this morning, writer-director Peter Farrelly revealed he is planning an early 2023 start for Ricky Stanicky, his first R-rated comedy in years. He is in talks with Zac Efron and John Cena, with the latter playing the title role. Farrelly cautions that deals aren’t done, but he is sparked to move forward on a film he’s been working on through the making of Best Picture Oscar winner Green Book, and The Greatest Beer Run Ever. The latter has its world premiere Tuesday at TIFF, where Farrelly launched Green Book five years ago.

Ricky Stanicky will be in the spirit of the raucous comedies he made with brother Bobby that include Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary, Me, Myself and I and Dumb and Dumber. Farrelly and John Jacobs will produce it. Jeff Bushell wrote the original spec and is also a producer.

“I’m shooting it in January, and we’re in negotiations with John Cena and Zac Efron,” Farrelly told Deadline. “They’re not locked in. I want to make that clear. Ricky Stanicky, I think, is just a hilarious movie, and it’s a great message, not just a bunch of hard-R laughs. There’s Something About Mary ultimately is about true love. There were many times when Ted, the Ben Stiller character, would have just backed off, except he was in love. He gets these bogus reports that Mary has got all sorts of issues; she’s got too many kids by too many guys; she’s on welfare. He still wants to find her because he loves her, and that’s the ultimate message. The message of Ricky Stanicky is somewhat different, but I think it will resonate.”

Stanicky is a fictional character used by a group of married friends to blame their misbehavior on when making excuses to their wives.

Said Farrelly: “What happens is the wives finally say, ‘Hey, wait a second — how come we never met Stanicky? He wasn’t at our wedding.’ Well, he was building houses in Africa. Well, he wasn’t at this or that. Bring him here, or don’t come home. So they hire a guy to come in for a day. They create a bible for the guy, and they pay him a thousand bucks to come and be Ricky Stanicky. He pulls it off with flying colors to the point where everybody loves him. And then the guys can’t get rid of him. Cena is Ricky Stanicky, and if you’ve seen him in Peacemaker, you see what he can do in a comedy. He’s hysterical in a show that really pushes it. I never knew much about John Cena until I saw that, and I was like, ‘There’s Stanicky right there.’ That guy, I love him. His timing is impeccable, and it’s surprising for a guy his size. He’s comes across like a little guy. His sense of humor is more self-deprecating than big guys usually have. I learned this is a guy in the Guinness Book of Records for Make-a-Wish Foundation grants. He’s done like 500 of them, and that’s what he does like every weekend. He’s a sweet guy, big hearted, and that’s what this Stanicky has to be. He’s got to be this guy who’s a fraud, but you can’t not love him, and it becomes a problem for our guys as he starts surpassing them in many ways.”

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