Review by Lauryn Angel
Since we’ve already had Rough Night this summer (and A Bad Mom’s Christmas on the horizon), it would be easy and even understandable to dismiss Girls Trip as more of the same: women behaving badly for the sake of laughs. But to do so would be a mistake, as Girls Trip is the better movie. It’s filthy and funny, and while it has a similar message to Rough Night, it delivers its message with a lot more heart.
At the center of the film is Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall), a self-help guru who has authored a book entitled You Can Have It All. Hailed as “the second coming of Oprah,” Ryan really does seem to have it all, including a handsome husband and business partner, Stewart (Mike Colter). But something is clearly missing in Ryan’s life – The Flossy Posse, Ryan’s friends from college who have drifted apart. In an attempt to reconnect, Ryan invites them to join her in New Orleans for the Essence Festival, for which she is the keynote speaker. Ryan’s trip is not all-pleasure, however, as she hopes to book a major sponsorship deal, and to top that off, there are problems with her marriage lurking on the sidelines.
The members of the Flossy Posse have changed over the years, but each member has a distinct personality. Sasha (Queen Latifah), who was a journalism major in college, now runs a celebrity gossip site. Sasha’s site is failing, but she does her best to hide her failure behind a poised and polished exterior. Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) is a single mother who has let her love life falter in service to her children. Dina (Tiffany Haddish) is the only member of the Flossy Posse who doesn’t seem to have changed much from her college days. Dina is bold, brash, and ready to throw down the instant anyone throws the merest shade in her direction. Unfortunately, Dina doesn’t seem to realize (or perhaps care) that her antics cause problems for her friends.
While all four actresses are fantastic in their roles, Tiffany Haddish’s Dina repeatedly steals the show. Dina’s antics are the comedic highlights of the film – just wait until you see what she does with a grapefruit and a banana – often causing such uproarious laughter in the audience that the next few lines were lost completely.
While the movie is gloriously raunchy and raucous, what makes it so satisfying is the core of the film: its messages about friendship, loyalty, and empowerment. While Rough Night also had messages about friendship and loyalty, these themes almost seemed like an afterthought in a film that seemed more focused on getting laughs. While no one dies in Girls Trip, in many ways the stakes seem higher for the members of the Flossy Posse, who have to re-learn to trust each other and themselves. Likewise, they learn to re-evaluate what it means to “have it all,” a lesson that is hardest for Ryan.