By Kim Hughes
Like its advice-spewing central protagonist, the movie Girls Trip wants to have it all. It wants to be a bawdy female bonding move like Bridesmaids, a shockingly boozy tour de force like The Hangover, and a Sex And The City-style showcase for fabulous fashion.
And while it may not bullseye all three targets, Girls Trip does pull together a more coherent story — resonant even — than might be expected from frothy midsummer fare. It’s also very funny if uncomfortably reliant on “girls can be gross, too” tropes. But hey, you can’t blame filmmaker Malcolm D. Lee for trying.
Ryan (Regina Hall), Sasha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Dina (Tiffany Haddish) are college friends gradually drawn apart by the everyday demands of life. Nevertheless, the so-called Flossy Posse is determined to reconnect.
Opportunity comes in the form of the annual Essence Music Festival which Ryan – the before-mentioned aspirational Kelly Ripa-meets-Oprah author type — is invited to attend as keynote speaker. The festival is in party-friendly New Orleans. Let the games begin.
Of course, not everyone’s life is as rosy as Ryan’s. Once-promising journalist Sasha has been reduced to online gossip mongering. Straight-laced Lisa is back living with Mom and juggling single motherhood. Dina has anger issues (a launch point for some of the film’s best set pieces). And it turns out Ryan’s picture-perfect marriage – upon which a highly remunerative marketing deal hangs – is about to implode.
While these sterner narrative arcs form the backbone of the film and bring the story home, the women’s outrageous, I-can’t-believe-they-just-did-that hijinks – spectacularly choreographed public urination, fist-fighting, tripping out, to name just three — propel the action and leverage the laughs.
Nothing in Girls Trip surprises; we know exactly where things are headed even if we take kooky detours along the way, most spearheaded by Haddish’s brash, brawling, lascivious Dina in a breakout performance.
But the journey is surprisingly fun, owing to cut-above efforts by the principals and a story that, for all its absurdity, essentially spins on traditional themes of sisterhood, kindness and love. As everyone knows, nothing kicks a hangover to the curb faster than a solid dose of reality, especially the good kind.
Girls Trip. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee. Starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish. Opens wide July 21.
An entertainment/lifestyle writer and editor of an exquisite vintage, Kim has written about film, music, books, food, wine, cosmetics and cars for the Toronto Star, NOW Magazine, Report on Business, Amazon.com, hmv, Salon, Elevate, CBC, Spafax and many other marquee properties. She lives in Toronto and is a proud volunteer with Annex Cat Rescue.