For most of their lives, Ryan (Regina Hall), Sascha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Dina (Tiffany Haddish) have made up a friendship quartet they call the Flossy Posse. Having experienced many significant life events together, they share a strong bond, but life has still managed to get in the way and weaken their bond, so the women have been unable to meet up for the past five years. Ryan, who has become a successful author, decides to break the bad cycle and invite the rest of the Flossy Posse to Essence Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she is promoting her new book with her husband Stewart (Mike Colter). Soon after arriving, the ladies let loose and start bonding again, but in among all the drinking and raunchy Dina’s quest to get frumpy Lisa laid, Sascha receives some shocking information through her line of work as a gossip blogger that could not only end her friendship with Ryan, but also mean the end of the Flossy Posse altogether.
Raunchy comedies with gross gags and over-the-top scenarios often end up being so repulsive and ridiculous that many moviegoers understandably avoid them as a rule of thumb, but sometimes a crazy comedy comes along that feels almost liberating because it manages to bring some much needed structure to the mayhem. This was the case with the first The Hangover film as well as 21 Jump Street, and Girls Trip enters the same territory by ensuring that a balance is kept between the unapologetic outrageousness and the emotional drama.
Part of what sets Girls Trip apart from similar comedies is the acting, which is still grounded enough to allow the audience to genuinely invest in the four women. The struggles of Hall’s Ryan trying to remain composed while she is experiencing tremendous inner turmoil gives her character depth, just as Latifah’s Sascha is interesting because of her dilemma of having to chose between doing the right thing and remain friends with Ryan or go for an easy cash grab and potentially leave her financial worries behind at the cost of their friendship. Equally, Pinkett-Smith’s portrayal of the dowdy and timid Lisa remains grounded enough to avoid becoming a caricature, which in turn makes her a great contrast to Haddish’s uncompromisingly rowdy Dina. All in all, the four leads have great chemistry and manage to create a well-balanced group dynamic that ensures they are different enough to be interesting, but relatable enough to make it believable that they would in fact be friends. However, the real MVP is without a doubt Haddish who is absolutely fearless in her relentlessly funny portrayal of the vulgar Dina.
The main problem the film has is that it is too long at 122 minutes; had the film been shorter, the impact of the more emotional elements could have been stronger. Instead, the film tends to circle the same dramatic storylines and build on them in a way that veers dangerously close to becoming tedious. The grossness of the humor also sometimes runs the risk of being too absurd, but the film largely succeeds, just as it manages to take a tongue-in-cheek jab at cultural appropriation when the character of Ryan calmly warns her white female agent about using lingo traditionally used among people of color. As such, when you scratch the surface, there is more to Girls Trip than mere gross gags and crude jokes, and the film has numerous elements that ensures it is not only a film that celebrates female friendship, but also women of color and black culture in a manner that is underrepresented in mainstream cinema.
Verdict: 8 out of 10.