Regina Hall, Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith headline this raunchy comedy, but Tiffany Haddish steals the show

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Rowdy and raunchy is the default setting for comedies these days, and the gals prove they can get after it just as much as the guys in “Girls Trip,” an uproarious tale of four friends coming together at the Essence Festival in New Orleans.

Regina Hall, Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith lead the cast in this race- and gender-flipped take on “The Hangover,” but it’s Tiffany Haddish who steals the show with a boisterous, brash performance that deserves to make her a star. Like Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids” or Kathryn Hahn in “Bad Moms,” she’s a force to be reckoned with and she makes off with the movie, ripping the rug out from underneath her better-known co-stars.

The four ladies are old pals who used to be known as the “Flossy Posse,” but have drifted apart as their lives took them in different directions. But when Ryan (Hall), an Oprah-type mogul and media guru, gets invited to be the keynote speaker at Essence Fest, she brings her old friends along with her for the ride.

Naturally, hijinks ensue. “Girls Trip” earns its R-rating early and sticks to its guns; the film is full of bawdy, lewd humor and racy gags. But unlike the dull “Rough Night,” which also tried to play the girls-behaving-badly card, the humor in “Girls Trip” works, mostly because the gags are fresh and there’s a true feeling of camaraderie among the cast members. The movie even takes the most tired of tropes, the old-school dance-off, and makes it feel lively again.

Director Malcolm D. Lee (“The Best Man” movies) knows his cast is the engine and he lets them play off one another, and they give the film an easygoing, natural flow, even as it gets down and dirty. The dynamic between the four friends leaps off the screen and makes “Girls Trip” a journey well worth taking.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama

‘Girls Trip’

GRADE: B+

Rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, pervasive language, brief graphic nudity, and drug material

Running time: 122 minutes

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