Girls Trip Movie Review
As a white male critic, I’m the equivalent of Kate Walsh’s awkward character in Girls Trip: I want desperately to fit in, but have to settle for enjoying myself despite my noticeable paleness and lack of women parts. While Girls Trip is aimed to some degree at African-American audiences but more so at women of all races, the movie is nonetheless a comedy blast that is easily one of the funniest movies of the year.
Girls Trip is what the lackluster Bad Moms was supposed to be: a celebration of women having fun and giving zero f**ks about the consequences. That’s not entirely fair—Girls Trip has heart and a message, arguably to a fault, and so it does give a few f**ks—but the movie thrives when the four “girls” (Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish) are out drinking, having fun and getting into real trouble.
Malcom D. Lee (The Best Man, Barbershop: The Next Cut) and the three screenwriters attached to the film fling their characters from one ridiculously entertaining scene to the next. Whether it involves ziplining, a naked homeless man trying to buy “services,” or an absinthe-induced hallucinatory trip, Lee manages to make the most of each situation—they’re often absurd, but not outlandishly so.
The film benefits from having four strong, well-defined characters (as well as several other supporting roles for both women and men), each with their strengths and flaws. Lee gives ample time to explore the arcs of each of the women.
And then there’s Tiffany Haddish. Despite starring three very well-known actresses, the lesser-known Haddish is an absolute scene-stealer—she injects more energy into a single scene than the rest of the cast combined. All four women are great, but Haddish is the rock star, her intense, impulsive, will-have-fun-at-any-expense character the life of the party.
Where Girls Trip falters is its tendency to get too serious at times. The movie centers around a story about a cheating husband and an important decision on whether to stick with him for the sake of appearances (and money) or not, which ultimately culminates in a powerful scene at the end that understandably resonates well with modern women. That’s all fine and good, but the ending is also inevitable—yet Lee feels the need to load the film with piles of conflict and drama anyway. The problem is that when he does, he stops the comedy entirely—Girls Trip has a very up-and-down cadence to it; just when it’s at full speed, he puts on the brakes to give us another scene where Regina Hall and the girls are arguing about what she should do with her husband. Lee could have tightened or even cut some of these scenes—at over two hours, Girls Trip is a long comedy—without losing sight of the film’s heart.
Girls Trip is a very funny film that deserves to be seen in a theater packed with people. It’s fun, creative, and features a breakout performance by Tiffany Haddish. It also, judging by the primarily female crowd’s reaction and my own wife’s dismissal of my criticisms, resonates extremely well with the intended audience—no, despite what you may think, not white men. It isn’t perfect, but Girls Trip is a blast.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.