Review: Girls Trip (2017)

Girls Trip (2017)

Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee | 122 minutes | comedy | Actors: Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Larenz Tate, Mike Colter, Kate Walsh, Kofi Siriboe, Lara Grice, Deborah Ayorinde, Janeline Hayes, Wild Wayne, Sunny Hostin, Nick Mundy, Ricky Wayne, Shrey Neil , Donna Biscoe, Aadyn Encalarde, Cayden Williams, Rachel G. Whittle

A group of friends head out for a wild weekend away (or just a night out) and go wild with booze, drugs, sex and craziness. A complete subgenre has emerged around these kinds of films, a proliferation that does not bode well. Although ‘The Hangover’ (2009) and ‘Bridesmaids’ (2011) are successful variations on the theme, many other films, which were made at a rapid pace in the hope of being able to piggyback on the success of those positive outliers completely wrong. Critics therefore view every new shoot on the ‘party film boom’ with suspicion. Fortunately, every now and then there is a film that manages to positively surprise us. Such a film that, although it follows the well-known paths and is full of clichés, yet shows that it has its heart in the right place. One such film is ‘Girls Trip’ (2017) by Malcolm D. Lee, the man behind the ‘Best Men’ series of films. A group of African-American women set out together and experience the wildest adventures. So far nothing new under the sun. What sets ‘Girls Trip’ above mediocrity is the wonderful, genuine chemistry between the lead actresses. Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Tiffany Haddish could easily have been friends for years in real life, that’s how convincing they are here.

The story is not very special; The central figure in the company is Ryan (Regina Hall), a ‘self-made woman’, who, as a kind of lifestyle guru à la Oprah Winfrey, has won a large fan base in a short time. She seems to be doing well; she’s smart, her career is on the rise and she has a seemingly perfect marriage to Stewart (Mike Colter). We soon discover that it is not as great as it seems. Ryan is invited to speak at the New Orleans Essence Festival and, not wanting to travel to Louisiana alone, invites her old friends to join her. Girls she hasn’t spoken to in a long time because she was too busy with her career. The other women also had other things on their minds in recent years. Sasha (Queen Latifah) once aspired to a big career in journalism, but got no further than the gossip section on a website and now has major financial problems. Lisa (Jada Pinkett-Smith) married, had children, and divorced again. She watches over her offspring like a mother superior. In doing so, she completely ignores herself. She still hasn’t processed her divorce and that’s why she’s quite bitter. Finally, there’s Dina (Tiffany Haddish), who recently lost her job. That doesn’t seem to bother her, though, because she’s cheerful and pretty crazy. Sometimes she trots a bit and not infrequently she gets herself and others into trouble with her big mouth. So it is because of Dina that the foursome are evicted from their luxury hotel, so that they are forced to seek refuge elsewhere. They soon end up in a world of booze, drugs, male nudity and… grapefruits?!

Yes, of course there are serious love interests that pose a potential danger to the friendship between the women. And yes, of course these women are cardboard characters, who are maneuvered towards a predictable ending with predictable plot twists. Nevertheless, ‘Girls Trip’ is a wonderful movie to watch. Because the touch of drama that has been incorporated in the wafer-thin story may not be anything special, but the humor really shines through here. The jokes are dirty and vulgar at times, but because they are delivered with such verve (Haddish in particular is on a roll; he steals almost every scene), they almost all hit the spot. The film shoots from one crazy comedy scene to another at a rapid pace. The fact that we go along with it is mainly thanks to the strong cast. Hall, Latifah, Pinkett-Smith and Haddish convince as a group of friends, not only in the funny scenes but also especially when their characters don’t like each other for a while. Their quarrels are not ‘bitch fights’, but the result of miscommunication. As is often the case with real friends. The believable chemistry between the women makes ‘Girls Trip’ a much more enjoyable viewing experience than you might think based on the movie poster and summary.

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