DIR: Malcolm D. Lee • WRI: Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver • PRO: Malcolm D. Lee, William Packer • DOP: Greg Gardiner • ED: Paul Millspaugh • DES: Keith Brian Burns • MUS: David Newman • CAST: Kate Walsh, Regina Hall, Larenz Tate
Of all the films in 2017 that are fascinating to dissect, it’s surprising that Girls Trip is at the top of that list. By all accounts, this should be a bad movie – the soundtrack is cringe-inducing, the jokes are predictable, and the premise utilizes the well-worn Hangover formula that uninspired comedies have relied upon since its release back in 2009. Despite this, it still manages to be both enjoyable and entertaining, albeit with the minor caveat that those who have no tolerance for loud and crass humour may want to give this a miss.
Girls Trip is the perfect example of star charisma elevating the material they’re working with. The reliability of its director, Malcolm D. Lee (Undercover Brother), helps ensure the film never dips too far in quality, but it’s the excellent dynamic between its central quartet of Regina Hall (Scary Movie), Queen Latifah (Chicago), Jada Pinkett Smith (The Nutty Professor), and Tiffany Haddish (Keanu) that gives Girls Trip its remarkable energy, personality, and style.
The story involves the Flossy Posse – Ryan (Hall), Sasha (Latifah), Lisa (Smith), and Dina (Haddish) – who have spent over twenty-five years together as the best of friends. When Ryan is on the cusp of making a business deal at the annual Essence Festival, she takes the opportunity to spend the weekend with her lifelong friends, each with their own particular needs as well. Sasha must break a scandalous story in order to save her gossip website; Lisa hopes to get in touch with her wild side and have sex for the first time in two years; and Dina seeks to capture the reckless, drunken spirit that made her friends’ adventures the stuff of legend.
With past quarrels resurfacing, childhood sweethearts, and cheating spouses, it’s not difficult to imagine how the rest of the story unfolds. At just over two hours long, Girls Trip stretches its plot thinly over scenes of hallucinogenic absinthe and explosive micturition, feeling as though thirty minutes at least could have been cut from the runtime. In spite of this and its more unsavoury moments, the film manages to keep its celebration of sisterhood at centre-focus, grounding the movie in charming scenes of friends spending time together. The natural chemistry between its four stars helps to make the friendship of the Flossy Posse all the more convincing than might be expected.
Added to this is the enjoyable casting of Jada Pinkett Smith and Regina Hall against type, where Smith is given liberty to let loose in enjoyably ludicrous situations. Hall especially showcases her charisma by making the oft-frustrating straight-man role an engaging and sympathetic character to spend time with, still delivering some of the funniest lines of the movie.
Girls Trip‘s surprising success at the US box-office against Dunkirk certainly ensures that this won’t be the last we’ll see of the Flossy Posse, but it can only be hoped that Universal remember that not just its stars but the heartfelt celebration of sororal bonds which has helped make the film such a hit with audiences. While it cannot be stressed enough that not everyone will find the experience an enjoyable one, those looking for the perfect Friday night movie may be pleasantly surprised with what’s on offer here.
16 (See IFCO for details)
Girls Trip is released 28th July 2017