"Girls Trip works as well as other female-led comedies likeBridesmaids and Sisters. "
by Steve Pulaski
Girls Trip is one of the most unexpectedly vulgar pictures of the year. Dirtier than the prolific sexual humor in the similarly conceived Rough Night, filthier than the frequently vulgarian comedy Fist Fight, and dirtier than you can expect any male-dominated raunchy comedy to be this year. This isn't a criticism, but a simple fact. If anything, I think this note makes the target demographic that much more intrigued by this film.
It's refreshing to see a film with a largely African-American cast that doesn't rely on cardboard stereotypes and tears down the prevalent, racist generalizations of black women. It succeeds on being a fun, carefree comedy in the midst of a year that's had a deficit of such comedies. It may not be perfect, but it comes at an appropriate time, and for most audiences, it'll be more than enough.
The film stars Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, and Queen Latifah as a quartet of college friends who were once known around school as the "Flossy Posse." At that time, they were the girls known for having a great time, but as with even the most loyal squad, times change, work becomes more demanding, and before long, the women set their sights on separate tracks.
Ryan (Hall) became a powerful, Oprah-esque motivational speaker and personality with her husband Stewart (Mike Colter), Lisa (Pinkett Smith) became a single mother with a nonexistent sex-life battling with her lax mother, Dina became a woman perpetually stuck with the college mindset of partying and maneating, and Sasha (Latifah) went on to run a successful, TMZ-like internet tabloid known as "Sasha Secrets."
Starved for a weekend of fun with her girls and to prove that a woman can be massively successful balancing everything in her life, Ryan decides to reunite the Flossy Posse by giving them all VIP passes to the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. Ryan is a keynote speaker at the event, and sees it not only as the perfect opportunity to have a girls' weekend, but also one that could help her secure a TV and book deal for her and Stewart.
Setbacks come as quickly as happy hour margaritas as Sasha gets an exclusive picture of Stewart cheating with an Instagram model, and Dina gets the gang thrown out of their five-star hotel after assaulting him in a fit of rage. The ladies try to balance this unfortunate news while they try and get Lisa to let loose and have sex for the first time in months among grappling with how the motives of their friendship has evolved and changed over the years.
The dynamic of the girls is obviously the strongest thing Girls Trip has to offer as a movie and a comedy. Regina Hall plays her multi-dimensional mogul character very well, with great wit and an even better sense of the drama and pressure facing her character, which comes through in the film's climactic moments. Even Jada Pinkett Smith has quite a few highlights, specifically the light physical comedy her character adds as she tries a bit too hard to mix and mingle with men.
But the stand-out of the bunch is Tiffany Haddish in a star-making performance. Haddish is shamelessly vulgar and crass, with facial expressions, eyebrow-raises, and foul exclamations of passionate emotion that explode from her character. She's way more than a strong actress here, she feels authentic and genuine in all her emotions. She even nails the mannerisms you could believe her character would possess, breaking the boundaries of the typical "angry black woman" caricature to become someone very funny and very real. She's dynamite.
The inevitable point of comparison forGirls Trip is Rough Night. It's debatable which one is funnier, and I frankly lean the way of the latter due to its leaner material and its thriller/crime undertones which made some of the moments of desperation more compelling. I would say Girls Trip is, however, the better movie. The reason I rate it lower and am a bit more conservative in my praise for it is due to its runtime and episodic nature, as both attributes work against it as the 85 minute mark rolls around.
Up until that point, Girls Trip is a hilarious fun, even at times uproarious. A scene involving a homeless man and his desire to get what seems to be a "$5 fix" is among one of the funniest comic ensembles of the year thanks to everyone's commitment to bearing a key reaction that elevates the scene wonderfully. But length can kill even the best comedies and dramas, and unfortunately, Girls Trip's frantic narrative laced with loud music and sweaty energy grinds to an exhausting halt as the cheating subplot amplifies and it becomes less about Ryan, and more about what a scumbag Stewart is. Almost similar in the way Steve Trevor threatened to usurp Wonder Woman in her movie, Kenya Barris and Tracy Olvier's screenplay unfortunately let's too much exterior drama get in the way of the girls' friendships and the rock-solid, feminine dynamic that occurs throughout the entire first and second acts of the movie.
Up until then, Girls Trip works as well as other female-led comedies likeBridesmaids and Sisters. After that, it develops the worst tendencies of overlong comedies like Think Like a Man.
Despite this, the film is debatably still worth it for those great 85 minutes, and Hall and Haddish's convictions. There's nothing here that would damper or discourage a worthy ladies night at the cinema, but there is a bit too much here for Girls Trip to succeed on what should've been a simpler, more achievable playing field.
Steve's Grade: B-