Pulling off the raunchy, randy, female-driven comedy can be a tall order. “Bridesmaids” showed it could be done, though such successes since then have been few and far between. “Girls Trip” proves to be the heir apparent to “Bridesmaids,” a film about female friendship that nails the comedy, the boldness and the heart.
There’s no need for high concepts or outlandish premises here; all that’s necessary is four longtime best friends and a city built for sin. Director Malcolm D. Lee (“The Best Man”) clearly is comfortable navigating an ensemble project.
Oprah-in-training Ryan (Regina Hall) has invited her girl crew along for a trip to Essence Fest in New Orleans, where she’s giving a keynote speech and taking meetings to launch her brand with her husband and business partner, Stewart (Mike Colter). Making up the Flossy Posse are Jada Pinkett Smith as worrywart mom Lisa, Queen Latifah as gossip blogger Sasha and lesser-known comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish, who runs away with the movie in a breakout performance as the wildly funny, completely uncensored and often unhinged Dina.
In the party atmosphere of New Orleans, Ryan’s perfectly maintained image and composure starts to come loose at the seams, especially when the posse discovers photos of Stewart stepping out on her with a sultry Instagram model (Deborah Ayorinde). Meanwhile, Lisa’s trying to get her groove back with a college kid (Kofi Siriboe), Sasha’s finances are in shambles and Dina’s just trying to avoid more run-ins with hotel security.
All the women are funny, but this is Haddish’s movie, and it will make her a star. An epic dance battle where she owns the floor clad in a skin-tight tie-dyed jumpsuit and purple wig cements the fact.
The hijinks are of the brash, bawdy and boozy variety, replete with X-rated discussions about sex and anatomy. These are women who like to have fun with their sexuality, don’t take it too seriously, own it and are unashamed about their desires.
The film balances potty humor with heartfelt female empowerment. They never clash because the characters are fully formed individuals, real people with real relationships and real problems. It’s a refreshing representation, but it doesn’t sacrifice the laughs or the love they have for their gal pals. “Girls Trip” proves that women can be many things: powerful, naughty, gross, hilarious and sexy, while still lifting each other up.