July 21, 2017

Girls Trip

We got our $30 seat preferences!

Grade: B
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Starring: Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Larenz Tate, Mike Colter, and Kate Walsh
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hr. 2 min.

Girls Trip is the latest evidence of the 1990s revival movement spreading through Hollywood, a predictable cycle whenever the high schoolers of a particular epoch become the thirty-to-forty-somethings now making movies. The soundtrack is set to P. Diddy, New Edition, Mariah Carey, and Maxwell. Larenz Tate and Morris Chestnut are the film’s idea of male eye candy. Heck, Queen Latifah, who made her name as a 90s rap artist, is one of the film’s co-stars.

Latifah plays Sasha, one of four lifelong friends whose college-age call name was the “Flossy Posse,” who are now settled into varying avenues of adulthood. Sasha is a starving online gossip columnist. Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) is a single mother living with, and slowly becoming, her mother. Dina (Tiffany Haddish) is the group’s loyal id, whose arrested development extends to her ribald vocabulary. And Ryan (Regina Hall) is a successful author trapped in a failing marriage to her superficially perfect, yet unfaithful husband, Stuart (Mike Colter).

The FP decides to reteam for one last ride to New Orleans for the annual Essence Music Festival, where Ryan is the keynote speaker. Between raucous partying, the ladies rekindle their bonds of sisterhood while leaning to confront their personal shortcomings. But Girls Trip isn’t about life lessons, even though the film’s excessive two-hour running time tries to force them. This is pure gal pal power, with a cast so attuned to their fun-filled task that you could imagine them being besties off-camera, as well. Each actor ably fills their role: Smith as the dowdy mom suppressing her freak flag; Ryan is the successful self-help princess who can’t perceive her own domestic woes; and Sasha is the sage soul of the group who nonetheless betrays her true professional calling.

But the true headliner is the unrelenting Haddish, an unabashed nabob of naughtiness who still stands ready to throw hands and invective with equal abandon. She propels the film through its draggy spots and comedic misfires, including a golden shower over Bourbon Street. But there is more than enough pleasantly madcap detours along this Girls Trip. One word: grapefruiting.