I love it when a film is exactly what you hoped it would be.
“Girls Trip” stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish and Jada Pinkett Smith as four lifelong friends who travel to a music festival in New Orleans to try and reconnect after years apart. Malcolm D. Lee directs.
I have several guilty pleasure genres of film, the top being Christmas, rom-coms and black ensemble casts (and whatever the hell “The Boss Baby” is); this falls into the latter two of those categories, so I was looking forward to it. Plus 2017 has been a relative weak year for comedies—my friend and I struggled to think of a single genuinely good one in the parking lot after we saw this—so I was hoping to finally have a good laugh in the theater. And thanks to great chemistry among the cast, a no holds barred script and a winning performance from Tiffany Haddish, “Girls Trip” is a fantastic comedy and by far the best of 2017.
It’s easy to compare this to “Bridesmaids” or “Bad Moms” because it’s an R-rated film about a group of middle-aged female friends who get their chance to show their raunchy side, and in some sense the film is a lot like those. There is even the one character that is more dirty mouthed and immature than the rest of the group (the Melissa McCarthy or Kathryn Hahn, if you will) and an unhappy marriage the group must work together through. Malcolm D. Lee has always been skilled at balancing raunchy humor with genuine human issues, and he again here finds a perfect balance.
The standout of the film is Tiffany Haddish, whose only other main film role was in last year’s snoozer “Keanu.” She is willing to talk about genitals and drugs much more liberally than the other girls of the group and has one monologue that had the entire audience in tears (I’m sure it was just 30 seconds of at least two minutes of improv that got spliced together in post). Haddish is also the most loyal friend in the group, always trying to help out the others’ needs and step up to defend them.
The film has some great lines and reactions, and many are funny just because of how random they are (somewhat like the “Pitch Perfect” brand of writing). Co-written by Kenya Barris who created the fantastic show “Black-ish,” the film isn’t afraid of having its female characters bring up penises on an airplane or go to the bathroom in public and it doubles down on its insane situations. Unlike films like “Rough Night” that play things too safe this knows that the crazier it gets, the more fun the audience will have.
There are some genuinely emotional and poignant moments too, mostly involving the husband of Regina Hall having an affair and her refusal to leave him. It creates some touching scenes, as well as some moments that some people may connect with.
Really the film’s only problem is its length. About an hour in, after a very big laugh, my friend turned to me and said “I think I love this movie” and I was inclined to agree. However the film then slows down and gets a bit repetitive, and it does clock in at 2:02 which is 15 minutes longer than “Dunkirk” and only 10 minutes shorter than the likes of “The Force Awakens;” had this been an hour 45 I think it could’ve been perfect.
All-in-all, “Girls Trip” is a fantastic comedy that works on multiple levels, and gives a platform to both actors and audiences that are to a degree undervalued in modern Hollywood. Normally when I’m at the theater and people clap after anything short of “The Revenant” or “The Social Network” I roll my eyes because few films deserve a standing ovation, but when my audience did it here I was completely understanding; this is just a fantastic time at the movies.
Critics Rating: 8/10