You’d be forgiven for getting Girls Trip confused with another recently released film about old college friends reuniting and acting out together after growing apart. Rough Night has much the same premise and a similar name, but where Rough Night sputtered to deliver on its comedy promises, Girls Trip fully commits.
Four life long friends travel to New Orleans for a wild weekend of partying at the annual Essence Festival. Old tensions rise as the “Flossy Possy” reunite, but they still fit in all the dancing and drinking they can manage. Queen of the friend group and life coach/author Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) hatches the plan as she offers to fly her girls out to accompany her on her VIP trip to Essence Fest while simultaneously trying to lock down a huge brand deal for her and her perfect husband (Mike Colter) with the help of her well-meaning agent, Elizabeth (Kate Walsh). She’s joined by journalist turned gossip blogger Sasha Franklin (Queen Latifah), perpetually single mother extraordinaire Lisa Cooper (Jada Pinkett Smith) and off the rails wildcard Dina (Tiffany Haddish).
The set up is nothing new, but Girls Trip delivers when it comes to raunchy humor. The jokes fly fast and often and each of the foursome take turns having their own moments of comedy gold. Grabbing the lion’s share of the laughs is Tiffany Haddish, who manages to steal the show when her co-stars are all well-established actresses. Haddish’s Dina is so loud, emotionally immature, and abrasive that it takes Haddish’s perfect balance of raucous personality and genuine kindness to pull it off. When Dina gets into fights or gives outlandish sex advice, it always comes from Dina’s sense of loyalty to her friends or in the name of having fun, innocent reasons that stop her from becoming dislikable.
It also helps that all four actresses have great chemistry together so that their characters’ life-long friendship is believable. There’s a strong emphasis on female friendships over simply pairing off these women with love interests and it adds an emotional punch that make the jokes that much more fun. That said, many of the more heartfelt scenes quickly oversteer into schmaltzy or cheesy, though the cast does all they can to sell it.
Thanks to filming at Essence Fest, the film is chock full of recognizable guest stars, from Ne-Yo to Mariah Carey to Mike Epps. It’s the perfect setting for such a film that celebrates black women, their friendships, and their careers. But most of all, Girls Trip is just plain funny. With the right mix of heart and jokes, it’s the perfect summer film to distract yourself from how hot it is outside.