Director: Malcolm Lee
Cast: Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Larenz Tate
Runtime: 2 hrs 2 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual Humour and Nudity)
Released By: UIP
Opening Day: 10 August 2017
Synopsis: Four lifelong friends who travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival and rediscover their sisterhoods and wild sides – enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.
Although the male gender kickstarted the most recent wave of R-rated comedies with 2009’s ‘The Hangover’, recent successes and failures at that genre like ‘Bridesmaids’, ‘Bad Moms’ and the upcoming ‘Rough Night’ have shown that the opposite sex can party harder, and perhaps even better. The latest grown-up girls-gone-wild comedy ‘Girls Trip’ from director Malcolm D. Lee reinforces that with just about some of the funniest gags we’ve seen in some time. There is a sexual manoeuvre called the ‘grapefruit technique’ that we guarantee is as memorable as it gets. There is an entire absinthe-fuelled hallucinogenic episode in a nightclub that has one of the characters mounting a lamp she mistakes for a man and another licking a wall she believes is a buff, naked male. And last but not least, there is a shocking gag where two of the characters urinate all over a street crowd below while suspended midair on a zip line. Oh yes, there is outrageous physical humour all right, deliberately orchestrated with maximum raunchiness to prove that girls can do what guys typically do and even make them blush at the same time.
But this ‘Girls Trip’ isn’t just about being dirty; it also packs a sentimental message about friendship amidst its titular reunion of sorts for four college friends who call themselves the ‘Flossy Posse’ that have since grown apart. The leader of the quartet is bestselling self-help author Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall), riding high on the success of her latest bestseller ‘You Can Have It All’ and on the cusp of landing a Martha Stewart-like deal with a fictional retail chain with her football-star husband and business partner Stuart (Mike Colter). You know from the start that she’s clearly set up for a fall, and that her reality is really less than perfect – true enough, she discovers just as they land in New Orleans for the upcoming Essence festival that Stewart is cheating on her with ‘some Instagram ho’, and that paparazzi have incriminating pictures of his indiscretion. As her life unravels, her friendship with the Posse will be affirmed, tested, and finally reaffirmed – there is single mom Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), the most clear-headed one amongst them; party girl Dina (Tiffany Hadish), the most hot-headed of them all; and gossip blogger Sasha (Queen Latifah), sitting on top of Ryan’s secret that will be a major scoop for her struggling website if she decides to publish it.
Lee and his screenwriters anchor the character work on Ryan’s coming-to-terms with her less-than-picture-perfect couple life, as well as the simmering awkwardness between Ryan and Sasha that becomes a full-blown girl-on-girl argument before the weekend is over (turns out that the two had been business partners before Ryan decided to go solo, and it doesn’t help that Sasha has been struggling since to make ends meet while Ryan has since become her own self-made success). Notwithstanding, there is deft economy in the way the other personalities are sketched: the foul-mouthed and aggressively sexual Dina is the live wire of the group no matter what shenanigans they find themselves in, including we may add a girls-against-girls dance-off brawl; and the tightly-wound Lisa is looking to break a two-year sexual dry spell with a well-endowed college kid played by Kofi Siriboe. Even as their circumstances grow increasingly chaotic, each one of the principals never break character, which is in itself testament to the sharp writing and directing here.
At slightly over two hours, the pacing does sag between set-pieces – not to mention a by-the-numbers introduction that takes some time to warm up – but the chemistry and harmony between the leads keep up the interest and/or laughs from start to finish. In particular, Haddish shines in a ferociously committed performance that holds nothing back, diving into bouts of physical comedy and woefully inappropriate one-liners with verve and zest. It is no overstatement that she is to the movie what Melissa McCarthy was to ‘Bridesmaids’, and the other actresses graciously complement her fearless comic routine. So even though the setup is formulaic and the characters familiar, ‘Girls Trip’ stands out as an insanely funny, delightful and sweet R-rated comedy. Insofar as its purpose was to shock and amuse, this trip succeeds exceedingly on both counts, and whether with your girlfriends or with your boyfriends, it is a fun, wild ride all the same.
(This wild, raunchy and heartfelt girls-gone-wild comedy is as delightful as 'The Hangover' ever was - and we guarantee you'll never think of a grapefruit in the same way ever again)
Review by Gabriel Chong