“Better recognize your blessings.”
Did I feel embarrassed to ask the high schooler working the ticket booth for one pass to Girls Trip? Hell yes I did, my eyes cast down and our exchange as brief as possible. And as I exited the theater, calling my Mom to say how much she’d love the movie and sharing a tweet, my face felt flushed and full of shame. It doesn’t matter your sex or your race or your social rank – although, I’d assume, those averse to foul-mouthed humor will look down from their high horses negatively – because Girls Trip is both a riot and a flat-out hilarious movie. Instead of tanning poolside, spend one of these remaining dog day’s cooling off in a theater with the surprise smash of the summer. You might expect a few laughs; the reality is that Girls Trip evolves into so much more.
So many comedies follow this same formula that I’m guessing it’s one of grandma’s old recipes. A group of adult friends reunite after time apart for a weekend that defines the word revelry. Festivities, booze, drama. Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) is the leader of the pack, the latest coming of Oprah and a woman stuck in a dead marriage with Stewart (Mike Colter) to salvage their branding. There’s also Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), a divorced nurse and helicopter mother of two who hasn’t been taken to bed in years. Dina’s (Tiffany Haddish at her perverse best) the side-splitting and unfiltered megaphone of this self-ordained “Flossy Posse,” as confrontational as she is constantly loyal. And then there’s Sasha (Queen Latifah). A writer who left her respected journalism position to start “the black Huffington Post” with Ryan only to have the offer reneged, she now runs a dirty gossip blog and wears her grudge on her face.
Girls Trip is the movie equivalent of an advanced mad lib. Read/hear a brief plot summary and you can probably guess how it all starts and what occurs in the middle and how things end. There’s the expected good guy (Larenz Tate) who somehow claws his way out of the friend zone. Ryan’s agent Elizabeth (Kate Walsh) provides a good douse of attempted appropriation, always speaking in colloquialisms and trying to fit the mold. However, these are fluid parts that function in an otherwise unique film about strong women of color who too rarely get to play the background singers, let alone take on the lead roles in a wide-release comedy. Set in New Orleans during the Essence festival, Girls Trip celebrates black culture by way of Bourbon Street, being loud and proud and never indignant. With nods to the city’s jamboree history and that famous Carousel bar, Girls Trip takes a concerned effort to be about the raucous blocks it is actually set within. It’s a bit limiting at times, and yet it’s also involving and exciting. We’re in on every single joke.
I enjoyed how Bad Moms revered the responsibility of mothers and enjoyed the obscenity of Rough Night more than I’d like to admit, but Girls Trips is simply on a higher level. Its humor is crass, occasionally mean-spirited in the way friends think and speak, and most importantly takes the time to culminate with a message worth paying attention to. Malcolm D. Lee’s films all tend to run a little long and this one is no exception, even though they manage to feel sprite because the man can direct one hell of a show. His latest is no different. This movie should be shorter and tighter, but I didn’t mind, specifically because its length allows us to spend more time with women we come to care for. Girls Trip teaches us dirty sex tricks, makes us laugh at a hobo’s penis and adult women peeing on passersby, and builds towards a final act praising the virtues and the purpose of friendship. Don’t be fooled by the lame trailers; Girls Trip is smart, rude, and beats to the tune of the heart.
“There is power in rediscovering your own voice.”
Rating: 4 out of 5