Girls Trip

Girls-Trip-rev

Girls Trip  (2017)    Universal/Comedy    RT: 122 minutes    Rated R (crude and sexual content throughout, pervasive language, brief graphic nudity, drug material)    Director: Malcolm D. Lee    Screenplay: Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver    Music: David Newman    Cinematography: Greg Gardiner    Release date: July 21, 2017 (US)    Cast: Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Larenz Tate, Mike Colter, Kofi Siriboe, Kate Walsh, Lara Grice, Deborah Ayorinde.  

 

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 After seeing the raunchy comedy Girls Trip, I may never drink grapefruit juice again. I didn’t know grapefruits could be used in the way explicitly described by one of the main characters. Decorum (and good taste) prevents me from describing it here; let’s just say it pays to remember that citrus juice stings when it leaks into certain orifices. ‘Nuff said?

 girls tripI can’t believe I’m about to say this but I really liked Girls Trip. It’s crude, vulgar and foul-mouthed but very, very funny. I laughed out loud several times. What sets it apart from other recent comedies is that it’s never mean-spirited. It’s one of the most cheerful, good-natured R-rated comedies I’ve seen in a long time. What’s more, all the main characters are likable. For a change, nobody got on my nerves. The odd thing is that the trailer conveys none of this. A couple of weeks ago, I said that Girls Trip was going to be awful. Now I’m wondering if I should eat my words with or without hot mustard.

 Meet the Flossy Posse, four girls that have been friends since college in the early 90s. Ryan Pierce (Hall, Think Like a Man), described by somebody as the second coming of Oprah, is a self-help guru who authored a best-selling book called You Can Have It All. She’s married to a retired NFL star, Stewart (Colter, Luke Cage), who also happens to be her business partner. It seems like Ryan really does have it all. Would you be surprised to hear her life isn’t as picture perfect as it seems? Sasha (Latifah, Bringing Down the House) was once a promising journalist for respected publications; now she writes a celebrity gossip blog that treats rumors as fact. She’s broke and will lose everything unless she gets something really juicy on somebody. Lisa (Smith, Bad Moms) is a divorced, overprotective mother of two who lives with her own mother. She hasn’t had a man in two years but her specialized shower head gets a pretty good workout. Dina (Haddish, Keanu) is simply a force of nature. She’s loud. She still parties hard. She has no filter or concept of adult responsibility. The reason she’s fired from her job in an early scene is riotous; her reaction is even more so.

When Ryan has to go to New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival, she figures it’s an ideal opportunity to reunite with the friends she hasn’t seen in five years. There’s noticeable tension between two of the girls. Aside from a few business obligations, Ryan plans to spend a wild weekend with her girls. Naturally, life gets in the way. Somebody sends Sasha a paparazzi picture of Stewart making out with another woman, an “Instagram skank” known only as Simone (Ayorinde, Luke Cage). She immediately shows it to Ryan who doesn’t seem to be fazed by it. She says his serial cheating is an issue they’re working on. Meanwhile, Sasha faces the moral dilemma of whether or not to use the picture to solve her own financial woes even though it would mean betraying her friend. Things get even more complicated when Ryan runs into her old college beau Julian (Tate, Menace II Society) and discovers the flame is still flickering.

 I can cite many instances where I’ve sat through some terrible comedy in angry silence while the rest of the audience laughs their heads off. To this day, I still can’t figure out what was so damn funny about Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. With Girls Trip, I laughed right along with everybody else. God help me, I found it hysterical! I don’t want to give away all the best gags but I will say that Girls Trip is educational. Now I know about “grapefruiting”. There’s also a sequence (shown in the trailer) with the girls tripping on absinthe that cracked me up. If you ever want to see Queen Latifah make out with a lamp, this is your chance.

 It bears mentioning that Girls Trip isn’t just a comedy about four black women cutting loose in The Big Easy. It’s also about female empowerment and the bonds of friendship. Ryan claims to be a powerful woman yet she can’t come to terms with her hubby’s pattern of infidelity. If she divorces him, it could cost her a very lucrative business deal. Director Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man) maintains a nice blend of humor and pathos. It’s sweet without being sticky.

 The performances in Girls Trip are uniformly good. Rather than annoying stereotypes or immature women-children, the actresses play adults who are grounded and loyal to one another. They may have their disagreements, but they always have each other’s backs. Hall plays the lead role with both confidence and vulnerability. Ryan puts up a brave front but comes to learn that living a life of denial isn’t living at all. Latifah brings her usual strength to Sasha, a smart woman who still harbors resentment against Ryan over a falling-out they had a few years earlier. It’s fun to watch Smith’s prim and proper character lose her inhibitions as she gets involved with a handsome young college student (Siriboe, Queen Sugar). Kate Walsh (Private Practice) has some nice scenes as Ryan’s agent who probably spends too much time browsing the on-line urban dictionary.

 Haddish, however, is the real wild card here. She’s to Girls Trip what Melissa McCarthy was to Bridesmaids or what Kate McKinnon is to anything’s she in (including the recent Rough Night). Almost everything that comes out of her mouth is profane, inappropriate and hilarious. Her violent temper makes her an ideal candidate for future Jerry Springer shows. Haddish pretty much steals the show. That’s not to say the rest of Girls Trip pales in comparison. It’s (mostly) consistently funny; it’s that endangered species of comedy that hits far more than it misses. It’s like Waiting to Exhale meets The Hangover. The girls can get as down and dirty as the boys, just as long as there’s a bit of Lifetime movie to the debauchery. It’s easily the funniest movie of the summer. 

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