Girls Trip

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - DAN LYBARGRER

Girls Trip is a pleas­antly raunchy out­ing that of­fers few sur­prises but plenty of guilty laughs. That’s fit­ting for a movie about a group of col­lege friends who re­unite pe­ri­od­i­cally to re­call when their con­sti­tu­tions could han­dle late hours and when they could con­sume spir­its with­out pe­ri­od­i­cally won­der­ing if they were prop­erly hy­drated.

In the decades since the “Flossy Posse” grad­u­ated, Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) has achieved fame and and bit of for­tune writ­ing ad­vice books, par­tic­u­larly one ti­tled You Can Have It All, where she dis­cusses her good for­tune and her mar­riage to a hand­some NFL vet­eran named Ste­wart (Mike Colter). The two are a fix­ture on talk shows even though it’s ob­vi­ous that Ste­wart ap­pears to con­sider his mar­riage vow more of a mild

sug­ges­tion.

That hasn’t stopped Essence mag­a­zine from ask­ing her to be a keynote speaker in New Or­leans, so Ryan in­vites the rest of the Flossy Posse to join her for one last bash be­fore her big speech.

While the four of them still wear neck­laces with the “FP” logo, there is a good rea­son why they have seen each other less fre­quently. Sasha Franklin (Queen Lat­i­fah) was once a re­spected jour­nal­ist, but she now toils on her own TMZ knock­off with sor­did tales of celebrity foibles. The site may keep her in the game, but her scoops don’t get enough hits to pay off her car or her hous­ing bills. She gets wind of Ste­wart’s rov­ing eyes and de­bates whether to make click bait out of him.

Dina (Tif­fany Had­dish) has sim­i­lar ca­reer prob­lems, but her happy-go-lucky man­ner im­plies that leap­ing from job to job is stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dure for her. She might not stay at any par­tic­u­lar of­fice for too long be­cause she has a habit of as­sault­ing co-work­ers who cross her while us­ing lan­guage that would make Seth Ro­gen wince. Her out­bursts and glee­fully deca­dent man­ner make her more en­ter­tain­ing than dan­ger­ous, and her loy­alty to her friends en­ables them to for­give her for po­ten­tially at­tract­ing at­ten­tion from law en­force­ment.

Had­dish makes what could have been an ir­ri­tat­ing role and ends up own­ing the film. She can play an un­in­hib­ited char­ac­ter with­out ever giv­ing view­ers a sense she’s wink­ing at them.

Lisa Cooper (Jada Pin­kett Smith), on the other hand, is a sin­gle mom who goes about her house in hos­pi­tal scrubs and car­ries a va­ri­ety of dis­in­fec­tants wher­ever she goes. Her ob­ses­sion with health threat­ens to drive ev­ery­one in the Flossy Posse as crazy with para­noia as she is.

Screen­writ­ers Kenya Bar­ris and Tracy Oliver (Bar­ber­shop: The Next Cut) seem to be fol­low­ing a gross-out com­edy tem­plate, but the two come up with just enough naughty gags to make the fa­mil­iar jour­ney work. They tweak fa­mil­iar set­ups just enough so that they don’t feel as if they’ve passed their ex­pi­ra­tion date.

In some ways, Mal­colm D. Lee (The Best Man) seems more tour guide than di­rec­tor.

That’s not a bad thing. He knows how to treat view­ers to the sights of the Cres­cent City (which he rightly treats as more than a back­drop) and some cringe-in­duc­ing phys­i­cal hu­mor with­out get­ting them lost in mean-spirit­ed­ness. There are le­gions of fa­mil­iar mu­sic lu­mi­nar­ies like Sean Combs and Mariah Carey play­ing them­selves, and Lee gives them just enough time to make the party scenes con­vinc­ing but doesn’t clut­ter the nar­ra­tive with ex­ces­sive name drop­ping.

If Lee’s tone is just right, his pac­ing needs a lit­tle work. At just over two hours, Girls Trip stalls to­ward the end.

Dina (Tif­fany Had­dish) is an un­re­pen­tant party chick who hasn’t suc­cumbed to the do­mes­tic tran­quil­ity that has af­flicted her old col­lege friends in Girls Trip.

Lisa (Jada Pin­kett Smith) and Dina (Tif­fany Had­dish) are life­long friends who travel to New Or­leans to rekin­dle their sis­ter­hood and re­dis­cover their wild sides in Girls Trip.

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