- Girls Trip (2017)
Lots of good energy, belly laughs, raunchy jokes and the ultimate feel-good message mix in this funny, uplifting flick with a stellar performance from Tiffany Haddish. When a well-matched cast is the best factor, the story with a moral that doesn’t feel over overbearing also takes a step to taking something that a studio might consider a “niche” market, subverting the comedy genre, a step at a time.
Ryan is a woman who has it all: she’s a successful author with a handsome partner by her side, her media appearances are never-ending, and she’s on the verge of scoring a talk show deal. However, as she muses, she didn’t really get the time to hang out with her BFFs – and all of them used to be inseparable. When she receives an invitation to be a keynote speaker at Essence, a massive festival celebrating the African American culture, she decides to take her girls along and spend some quality time with them. None of them had time for that in the past five years: Sasha is a journalist with a Perez Hilton-style celebrity gossip blog, Lisa takes care of her kids and works as a medic, and Dina has just been fired from an office job where she didn’t even bother to hide her fierce temper – and all of them are about to embark on the crazy weekend like in old good times.
A fun flick with women at the centre of the events succeeds particularly because of splendid characterisation. The Flossy Posse squad is made of four utterly different characters, each of them different – and they complete each other like all friend cliques do. Ryan has the vibe of Queen Bee around her: she’s gentle but strong and inspirational. Sasha means business, and Dina takes no shit from anybody, she’s loud, outspoken, and the first one to lead people on the dancefloor. Lisa seems more reserved and grown-up, and she acts like a band aid for the frictions that happen on the way, but when she lets her hair down, she becomes the heart of the party. The distinctive characters create a bond that brims with good energy and the cast play off each other with ultimate energy that makes their connection feel real.
The mix of the absurd and the slapstick in a well-weighed combination makes the time fly by: from the absinthe-laced drinks, “grapefruiting” (don’t try it at home) to riding a lamp in a hallucination and an undercover dance-off with the Instagram model’s crew that is trying to destroy Ryan’s marriage, weird, wonderful and downright wicked humour makes this comedy worth our while – even if for a good start of the week. It doesn’t shame or objectify women while allowing them to do whatever they want, but promises a hell of a good time and delivers beyond it.
Tiffany Haddish (who made her mark before Key and Peele’s Keanu) is supreme as Dina: she steals the show time after time spewing jokes that’ll become classic lines and insults that are worth borrowing. If I even call someone a community penis, that’s most likely because of her brilliant delivery; sorry, that needed to be clarified. As we mentioned, the rest of the cast is equally good: Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Ryan Pierce have an innate bond on the big screen: it seems that the ladies had a lot of fun making this film, it’s key to how relatable it feels. They’re perfectly in sync, they feed off each other’s energy and make their group a crew to root for.
The unexpected factor, and a set-up for a grand finale, is the moral that the film brings. And it’s far less clichéd than an obligatory “true friendship overcomes all” factor. Besides being a whole lot of fun, the film also empowers women and lets them take the central stage in the particular trope of comedy populated by men (The Hangover, anyone?) and goes along the lines of Bridesmaids and the new Ghostbusters. It’s about strong women taking ownership of their lives, vulnerability and juggling different aspects of your life when you’re busy being what the society expects you to be: being a mother, an ace career woman, a partner. Even if the film doesn’t completely escape the cheese factor – the pop star guy with a heart on his sleeve waiting in the background for the bad boy to be finished off included – it goes along the lines of absurd that the film isn’t short of.
Ultimately, Girls Trip a feel good comedy with lots of girl-power: think The Hangover meets The Boss. Centring the female leads and giving them rich, bubbly, down-to-earth personalities alongside an inspirational message that you don’t owe anything to anybody who imposes it on you, it’s a hilarious portrait of sisterhood with an extra emotional factor that makes the film so heartwarming.