Girls Trip - 2017
Girls Trip is directed by Malcolm D. Lee and the writing team is headed by Kenya Barris. This is the same team behind last year’s critical and box-office success, Barbershop: The Next Cut. Proving with their follow-up that last year wasn’t a fluke, Lee and Barris once again deliver a funny and heartfelt comedy that favors character relationships over forced humor. Starring Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and comedy veteran Regina Hall. The story is simple enough, as we follow a group of friends reuniting in New Orleans for the first time in years and trying to jump-start their relationship.
So, I’ll be honest, when this movie started I was worried. The movie opens with a montage of “back in the day” photos of the girls and their adventures. They are badly photoshopped and we get a quick summary of their background via voice over from Hall’s character. I’ve always been a fan of show-me-don’t-tell-me writing, and so this intro is a little painful to get through for me. But luckily the movie gets exponentially better after this opening.
What makes Girls Trip a good movie is not the story, since we have seen many versions of a reunion movie through the years. This movie is not good because of the character arcs, since we have seen the same arcs in many of the friends-that-have-outgrown-each-other movies through the years. What makes Girls Trip a good movie is that it uses all the cliché comedy beats to sell you on this group of women to the point that you just feel you are among your friends and you want to see them succeed. The chemistry of this cast is downright contagious. Not for one second did I doubt they had been lifelong friends and that they truly cared for one another.
While the success of the movie can rightfully fall on Lee and Barris, they owe a huge debt to their cast. I have been a fan of Regina Hall ever since I was a twelve-year-old boy that sneaked in to watch Scary Movie. Here she plays Ryan, the second coming of Oprah. She is struggling to keep her public appearance, while at the same time be true to herself. Hall managed to create a good balance between her dramatic moments, letting the audience buy in to the weight of the problems she is facing, and her comedic moments, not letting the audience lose the fact that this is a comedy at heart.
I know I’m not the first or last person to say this, but the breakout star of this movie is Tiffany Haddish. She has been in Hollywood and paid her dues long enough to finally reap the benefits of a great role in a good movie. Haddish plays Dina, that friend we all have that no matter how old they get they still feel the need to be the life of the party. I was worried that she would be the stereotype “you need to grow-up” character and that her arc would be her realizing she is now an adult. But to my surprise they never fully went that route and they just accepted her for who she was and loved her for it. If we had to tally my laughs, Haddish would by far be the on top of the leaderboard. The rest of the cast is solid and they don’t really have a “weak-link” among them.
Girls Trip on the surface is just another cliché comedy like this year’s Rough Night. But unlike Rough Night they managed to create beautifully flawed characters that the audience can connect with and want to be along with for the ride. The pros of this movies outweigh the flaws by a lot. All the laughs Hall has given to me through the years is why I love movies.
Girls Trip is currently playing in theaters. Definitely worth a trip to the movies.
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