MOVIE REVIEW: Girls Trip is bonkers, outrageous fun
WHEN the trailer features Jada Pinkett Smith explosively peeing while suspended by harness in the air over revellers on New Orlean's busy Bourbon Street, you should have a pretty clear idea of what you're in for.
If there's one thing you should do going into Girls Trip, it's this: Leave all notions of shame and propriety at the door. To really enjoy this movie, you need to surrender yourself to it. There's no decorum to be found here.
What there is is a whole lotta bonkers, outrageous fun with a surprisingly gooey centre.
Taking the age-old formula of almost-middle-aged college besties reuniting for a weekend of partying, Girls Trip ramps it up a notch by saying, unapologetically, women can do this better than men.
Ryan (Regina Hall) is a lauded author and media personality who's been hailed as the "next Oprah" and invited to be the keynote speaker at the annual Essence Music Festival, a "celebration of black womanhood".
Ryan decides it's the perfect opportunity to gather her friends, the Flossy Posse, for a weekend of debauchery and bonding. It's been years since everyone was together and not every friendship is on solid ground, especially Ryan's and gossip blogger Sasha's (Queen Latifah).
Rounding out the crew are Lisa (Pinkett Smith), a divorced mum-of-two who's forgotten how to let loose and Dina (scene stealer Tiffany Haddish).
Dina is like that obnoxious friend of your partner's that never grew up. You tolerate that friend, in small doses, because sometimes they're good for a laugh and they make your partner feel connected to their youthful follies. But we all know that friend is the very definition of "too much". That's Dina.
She's loud, unabashedly crass and provides the most riotous comedy of Girls Trip ("it's your booty hole!"), including a graphic oral demonstration with a grapefruit and a banana. Fathers, lock up your fruit bowls.
Ryan and husband Stewart (Mike Colter) is about to sign a highly lucrative deal with a retail giant if the weekend goes well. But the couple whose success is hinged on them being perfect is far from that.
Girls Trip is better plotted than the similarly themed, Scarlett Johansson-vehicle Rough Night from earlier this year. It has a looseness to its structure that helps the momentum move from one crazy set-piece to the next.
Though the movie is at its best when it's not trying too hard to service the plot, when it's just kicking back, but it also knows when to shift gears.
Where Rough Night's story twisted and contrived into something farcical, Girls Trip grounds its off-the-wall antics with a relatable story about friendship and relationships.
The dynamics are believable, especially the strained friendship between Ryan and Sasha and how not communicating can tear people apart. And it also effectively deals with the pressures society put on women and women on themselves.
More than that, its central message is one of dignity. Yes, the movie with the absinthe-fuelled hallucinogenic trip is about self-respect. It's not what you expected but it was certainly welcomed.
Girls Trip is in cinemas now.
Stars: Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Mike Colter.
Director: Malcolm D Lee
Rating: MA 15+
Verdict: 3.5 stars