As of yet, there really hasn’t been a good comedy in 2017. Now, in way to rectify that, Universal Pictures and director Malcolm D. Lee present the newest comedy film Girls Trip. Does this latest comedy romp rise above its 2017 predecessors or does it fail (like so many others) to find its humor within its story?
Synopsis: When four lifelong friends—Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish—travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make the Big Easy blush. (Universal Pictures Canada)
Starring: Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish
Writers: Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Rating: 18A (Canada)/ R (United States)
Running Time: 122mins
For showtimes and more, check out Girls Trip on movietimes.com.
At first glance, the film is very similar to the other 2017 movie Rough Night (i.e. a comedy movie that’s about a group of women that get caught up in crazy situation with plenty of comical situations). While that particular film failed to impress, it seems like that Lee’s Girls Trip seems to be what Rough Night should’ve been. Of course being a comedy, Girls Trip does deliver on that account, with Lee staging a plethora of R-rated jokes and crazy gag situations for the four Flossy Posse girls to encounter and / or experience. Yes, the movie’s humor is a bit raunchy at times (that’s to be expected) and even a bit over-the-top (one particular one involves a zip-lining and urination), but a lot of these jokes / gags are quite funny, especially on their creative notion and / or delivery from the four actresses. What makes Girls Trip also stand out is that the film is better crafted than other comedies as Lee finds balance between humor and characters. As of late, comedies have had the same ingredients (a humorous premise, jokes, a few crazy situations, and a handful of comedic character actors to perform in the movie) that don’t always translate when making a feature film (see CHiPs, Baywatch, and The House). Girls Trip succeeds at this because Lee, along with writers Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver, make a more wholesome / well-rounded narrative rather than a shell-of-a-story with just crude jokes and humor. Additionally, Lee makes the most of the film’s setting, using New Orleans as the perfect backdrop to see these four women (partying and drinking) throughout the nightlife in the “Big Easy”.
Beneath all the humorous and sometimes raunchy shenanigans, the film finds time to incorporate some underlining messages within the picture, creating a sort of pathos for these women, which includes the tight sisterhood bond between lifelong girlfriends as well as being stuck in an unhealthy relationship with a partner (posing the fundamental question of “being with someone in an abusive / uncaring relationship versus being alone). It’s not common for comedy movies to usually find an underlining message within its context (see Bad Moms, Sisters, Hitch, etc.), but Girls Trip finds a better harmony when using these moments within the feature.
Girls Trip doesn’t walk away completely unscathed from criticism. For starters, with a runtime of little bit over two hours (two hours and two minutes to be exact), the movie does feel pretty long. Sure, all the jokes and gags in the film are bountiful and the character moments are a bit meaningful, but the movie overextends itself a bit and could’ve had at least ten to fifteen minutes shaved off its final cut. In addition, the movie also is fairly predictable, following a fairy well-trodden narrative path with many of the film’s outcomes easy to predict before they happen. Girls Trip isn’t really breaking any new ground, but its presentation rises above where others have failed. Thus, its negative can be slightly overlooked and less-bothersome.
Perhaps one of the best parts of Girls Trip was the four leading actresses that paid four Flossy Posse women in the movie. Of course, the standout performance of the foursome has to be Tiffany Haddish as the wildly out-of-control Dina. Haddish, known for her roles in The Carmichael Show, The Legends of Chamberlain Heights, and Keanu, uses her charismatic personality, with plenty of physical comedy gags (one involving a grapefruit and a banana is super funny) and hilarious inappropriate one-liner jokes, making her one of the most memorable (if not the funniest) characters in the entire movie. Behind her is Jada Pinkett Smith as the more conservative Lisa Cooper. Due to her character’s setup, Smith, partakes in plenty of funny sequences, executing them with humorous precision while maintaining a balance between comedy and drama. Lastly, Regina Hall and Queen Latifah, are the more plot dynamic / character driven moments of the feature (i.e. the more straight-laced individuals), with their respective characters of Ryan Pierce and Sasha Franklin. Yes, they do join in the fun for several comedic bits, but are probably are more paramount to Girls Trip’s narrative rather than Haddish and Smith’s characters.
These four leading ladies prove effective in their respective roles to a point where we (the viewers) actual care about them and their problems. Additionally, each one handles themselves well in their acting ability. So, even if a joke or two might not land quite well or film’s scripts hits a snag with some clunky dialogue, these four actresses help elevate the film in their acting delivery and / or comedic timing. Also, it’s quite clear from the beginning of the film that all four actresses got along quite well during film as their on-screen chemistry shows and works well, making the notion of them being lifelong friends more believable.
With the film being centered around the four Flossy Posse girls, Girls Trip really doesn’t have much of a supporting cast. In a way, that’s kind of a good thing as Lee keeps the focus on Haddish, Hall, Latifah, and Smith’s characters rather than unnecessary side characters. The only two that had an impact within the movie were Mike Colter as Ryan’s husband Stewart Pierce and Kate Walsh as Ryan’s publicist manager Elizabeth Davelli. Girls Trip also utilizes the chance to use a lot of African-American musicians / celebrities as the movie’s takes place during an Essence Magazine (a monthly magazine company for African-American women) festival. Lee incorporates this into the film and brings a lot of celebrities to make small cameo appearances including Mike Epps, P. Diddy (Sean Combs), New Edition, Common, Mariah Carey, Ne-Yo, Faith Evans, Maxwell, and Iyanla Vanzant.
The Flossy Posse reunites in New Orleans for a weekend adventure of drinking, tomfoolery, and discovering more about themselves (and with their girlfriends) in the film Girls Trip. Director Malcolm D. Lee’s newest movie is a fun example of how to do a proper R-rated comedy. It’s fun, entertaining, humorous, and even heartfelt. While the movie isn’t anything original or groundbreaking for the genre and some gag jokes are a bit over-the-top, the movie is still uproariously funny with plenty of raunchy humor to laugh out loud at as well as actually caring about these four women, thanks to the writers and four talented actresses who portray them. Personally, I liked this movie, it’s nothing totally new, but it’s definitely funny and has a lot to offer than most comedy films of late. I would highly recommend this movie, especially for fans of R-rated comedies. While there will be plenty of other comedies before the year ends (Bad Moms Christmas and Pitch Perfect 3 are prime examples), Girls Trip is the funniest (and raunchiest) comedy movie of the year so far. We’ll just have to wait and see if it can hold to its crown for the remainder of the year.
4.1 Out of 5 (Highly Recommended)
If interested, check out my movie blog @ Jason’s Movie Blog for my reviews of current movies.