Primarily an excuse for Tiffany Haddish to go wild and say and do a bunch of funny things, Girls Trip additionally operates as a showcase for half of the leads of Set It Off and one of the hardest working African American actresses in modern cinema to flex their own comedic muscles.
That they’re doing so on nearly 3,000 screens and doing it well is the best part of the deal, which comes courtesy of co-screenwriter and Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, who reteams with his Barbershop: The Next Cut co-scribe Tracy Oliver and director Malcolm D. Lee to less socially conscious yet significantly more gut-busting ends.
The outline on which the film’s many jokes hang, however, is a familiar one. College friends who partied hard under the name the Flossy Posse — wild card Dina (Haddish), sheltered divorced mother Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), Oprah-esque mogul Ryan (Regina Hall) and celebrity blogger Sasha (Queen Latifah) — reunite for the Essence Festival in New Orleans.
From her first scene, Haddish (Keanu; NBC’s The Carmichael Show) establishes herself as the firecracker of the crew, willing to speak her mind and educate her less experienced friends on such topics as new uses for grapefruit.
Nearly as impressive as her zaniness are her co-stars’ abilities to keep a straight face while she runs amok, though there are plenty of times when the old pals crack each other up.
Girls Trip is at its best when it sticks to the core quartet getting drunk, having a good time and doing crazy things, and though the drama of Ryan’s unfaithful husband Stewart (Mike Colter, Netflix’s Luke Cage) inspires some enjoyable lighthearted responses, the film is less successful blending it and the consequences of the Flossy Posse not being as close as they once were.
The comparable female-centric summer romp Rough Night does a better job of holding to this strong suit, though Girls Trip has the advantage of multiple gigantic comedic set pieces, capable of producing rolling laughter that drowns out subsequent dialogue.
It may not be the year’s best comedy to date, but the amount of joyful noise it produces over its speedy two hours should turn it into one of the most popular ones.
Grade: B. Rated R. Now playing at AMC Classic, Biltmore Grande and Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: Universal Pictures)