Girls Trip Review: An Outrageously Fun Getaway

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This summer’s second female-led raunch comedy hits its marks, thanks to some genuinely uproarious laughs and a star-making turn from Tiffany Haddish.

Hollywood may love to repeat itself, but that isn’t always a bad thing. This summer alone has seen a thrilling new chapter in Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise, a wonderfully moody remake of The Beguiled, and a promising reboot of everyone’s favorite web-slinger. Big budget comedies have fared less well, but, luckily, director Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man Holiday) and a cast of comedic aces are here to save the day.

Whereas last month’s Rough Night was a moderately funny, but decidedly ho-hum attempt at a wild girls-night-out romp, Girls Trip goes bigger and broader—and ends up going home the champion. The basic formula for a group of friends’ debaucherous weekend is all there, but Lee, along with screenwriters Kenya Barris and Karen McCullah, are smart enough to not to tread too heavily on overdone tropes and easy jokes. For this reason, Girls Trip is a great success.

The story follows Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall), an up-and-coming hybrid of Martha Stewart and Oprah who’s on the verge of inking a major development deal along with her ex-football player husband (Luke Cage‘s Mike Colter). All she has to do is impress her potential new business partner at Essence Fest in New Orleans, which she simultaneously uses as an excuse to round up her college girlfriends—nicknamed the “Flossy Posse”—for a long overdue reunion.

Her crew includes Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), an uptight single mother who’s nervous about getting back in the dating game, Sasha (Queen Latifah) a once renowned journalist who’s now slumming it as a gossip blogger, and Dina (Haddish) the wild child of the group who’s always looking for the next good time.

The ladies arrive in The Big Easy in no time, and anyone familiar with the city will enjoy the lively shots of jazz bands and the never-ending festivities on Bourbon street. The film also acts as a bit of an elongated commercial for Essence Fest, with cameos by everyone from Ava DuVernay to Mariah Carey to Diddy. Still, you can hardly blame the film for doing a little promotional work when what’s onscreen is so much fun.

Rowdiness ensues, and one of the highlights of Girls Trip is that it isn’t afraid to truly shock in order to get the laughs. A zipline ride across Bourbon street leads to a public urination sequence that almost made me pee my pants myself. An innocent toast between friends turns into an absinthe-fueled trip that’s raucously enjoyable and makes great use of the entire ensemble. And then there’s a scene involving a grapefruit that I can’t fully describe here without giving away one of the film’s most gasp-worthy delights.

This is all to say that this is a movie that fully earns its bacchanal badge, and not one that feels the need to sand down its edges. Of course, none of this shock value would do us any good if it wasn’t delivered by a wonderfully charismatic cast. Hall is an alluring lead, who isn’t afraid to drop her straightman status every now and then and let loose. Pinket Smith is highly amusing as the group’s most prudish and picked-upon member. And Latifah’s wise and straight-shooting demeanor is a welcome dose of honesty once shit really starts to hit the fan.

The real star of the show, however, is Haddish, who is coincidentally the least famous member of the ensemble. Her previous credits include the Key and Peele comedy Keanu and NBC’s The Carmichael Show, but its clear from the start that this is her big break. Every line that Dina utters is guffaw-inducing gold, and this is all thanks to Haddish’s fiery delivery and brazen physicality. In lesser hands, this character could’ve easily been an obnoxious troublemaker (Dina is the instigator of both the absinthe trip and the grapefruit incident), but with Haddish, she’s a force of nature.

Girls Trip‘s underlying message of female solidarity feels authentic and heartwarming. There are moments when the film dips too far into sentimentality (I could’ve done without Ryan’s overly expository narration) but its hard to fault it for being a little corny when the cast is so believable as a group of lifelong friends.

It also shouldn’t matter that this group of women is all black, but it’s important that they are. Whether they’re slinging back drinks at the bar or having a heart-to-heart back at the hotel, these ladies are unabashedly themselves. This movie is a good time no matter who you are, but its celebration of black womanhood is refreshing and more than welcome within the genre.

Girls Trip might share a revelrous kinship with films like Bridesmaids and The Hangover, but it quickly proves to be something all its own. If more movies in this genre are as adventurous as this one, then I certainly wouldn’t mind a few repeats down the line. Grade: B+

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