My blog is still very young and I’m lucky to be in the double digits in views some weeks right now as I work to try to grow it into something bigger and more popular, but one of my first followers was Jason from Jason’s Movie Blog. A few months ago he reviewed a film that has become pretty popular since its release called “Girls Trip” and had told me the film was worth seeing. Taking his recommendation to heart I finally had a chance to see the film recently and put together my own review and I have to say it really was worth the watch. If you’re interested in seeing what Jason’s blog is all about you can visit it here. I highly recommend it! As for “Girls Trip”, let’s get on with the review of what ended up being a cliché, but very entertaining comedy film.
“Girls Trip” stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish as a crew of friends who have found themselves separated by life. Hall plays Ryan, a very successful author in a shaky marriage that, in the public eye, is picture perfect and when she gets the chance to be a keynote speaker as the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans she invites her old crew to join her for a weekend of debauchery. As a scandalous photo surfaces that threatens to reveal the truth of Ryan’s rocky love life to the public and derail her career, the four women rediscover their inner wild sides and rekindle the bonds of their sisterhood while also coming to grips with the differences that drove them apart in the first place.
“Girls Trip” continues an interesting, and delightful, trend of quality black-led films in 2017 and while African American actors and actresses have dominated horror (“Get Out”), historical drama (“Detroit” and “Hidden Figures”), and make up the cast of one of action’s most anticipated upcoming films (“Black Panther”), this time the focus in on comedy and, considering the lackluster year the genre has had, “Girls Trip” is a welcome breath of fresh air we truly needed to offer us quality laughs and entertainment for two hours of our lives and with a quality cast and story to boot.
Stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish all pull off their roles well, giving personality to each character that helps them standout in a way many “friends get into trouble” comedy tend to pull off. The chemistry between these four is commendable and they play off each other well despite their individual characters all having their own personalities and traits that set them apart. Hall has truly come into her own as a leading lady, evolving from her role as Brenda Meeks in the “Scary Movie” franchise into a respectable actress who handles her comedic charm with more grace and subtlety than she did in her most famous role. Latifah continues to be a strong personality on screen as a confident gossip blog writer while Smith, who has had few major roles over the past few years, reminds us just how talented she is capturing her character’s good-girl-gone-bad transformation flawlessly on screen. The newest face of the bunch is Haddish who plays an immature and foul mouthed party girl and serves as the most prominent comedic force among the four women, nearly stealing the entire show several times in the film. While each of these characterizations may not be very unique when compared to characters from similar movies, it’s the commitment of the four actresses behind the roles that make them stand out as memorable, believable and enjoyable women worthy of cheering for. These are four women you believe are friends and while their changes in perspective and personality may seem odd, they are well reasoned and well paced to add to the quality of the characterizations as the film plays out.
I have to say the setting is also pretty well established and planned out. The backdrop of the Essence Music Festival, a festival celebrating black music and culture in the heart of New Orleans, is perfect without being too heavy handed as this film also doubles as a celebration of that culture. Early in the film there’s even a tasteful monologue by Hall’s character to her white manager, who tries to use black colloquialism’s to sound cool. Hall explains that the festival is a celebration of black culture and that her manager is a “guest” who should respect the culture, not try to emulate it. This is honestly a pretty powerful message hidden within a comedy film of hijinks and drunken mistakes that adds some heart to a film containing its fair share of potty and sexual humor. I found this to be the most engaging and gripping aspect of the film because it added substance to a story that could have very well been nothing but a bland tale about friends reuniting. This is what was missing in 2017’s earlier similar offering “Rough Night” which contained a similar concept, but with no real memorable depth behind either the relationships or the more subtle elements of the story as a whole. Plus, well, “Girls Trip” was actually funny…shots fired.
Unfortunately I can’t overlook that, in many ways, “Girls Trip” is still a rather formulaic comedy film. This doesn’t make it a bad movie because the overall experience provides great laughs and a heartfelt story of friends reuniting and rekindling their youthful lives, but we still get all the clichés. Each character has an issue sidelining their personal lives that calls for them to even consider revisiting their friendships. As mentioned, the film does lean heavily on sexual and potty humor and drunken debauchery to produce its laughs which, in all honesty, is an easy way out for any film to guarantee there’s at least a few chuckles if nothing else. And, probably the biggest cliché of all, we have an obligatory and forced conflict in the third act by separating the four women with a massive disagreement in the middle of their hotel. That said though, I’m not writing “Girls Trip” off because of these clichés. The opposite in fact. These clichés may be blatant and lack creativity but, in all honesty, director Malcolm D handles them well blending each comedic moment into the story and leaning on only the most appropriate and well thought out classic jokes and conflicts to make things happen…except for that peeing over the crowd bit. Honestly that was an unneeded attempt at humor this film could have totally gone without.
In a year where comedy has seen very few home runs, “Girls Trip” is a solid offering that brings laughs, heart, and even a subtle message of cultural identity to the table in a nice, tight package that never really gets boring. The primary four women in the cast own their roles and have amazing chemistry on screen and while there are clichés and a few unwarranted forced comedic elements to the project it’s easy to overlook the negatives with the positives. “Girls Trip” is, simply put, a fun, culturally relevant, and memorable comedy that is worthy of the massive success it received prior to my own viewing of the movie. There is potential for a second film to continue the adventures of the Flossy Posse and I honestly would sign up to enjoy it. These are characters we can relate to, even if we’re not part of the African American culture, and while many films have shown the deeper aspects of black life and black history in America this year, it’s nice to see a group of black ladies having a good time and get a tasteful peak into that culture without the movie taking itself too seriously.