Set amidst the Afrocentric treasure that is the Essence Festival, GIRLS TRIP is a hilarious comedic romp, filled with celebrity cameos, entertaining performances, and an intriguing story of friendship, “extreme” fun, foul play and forgiveness. Having attended the festival as a first-timer, only two weeks prior, I was drawn right back to the cadence, charm and party atmosphere of the city, nicknamed “The Big Easy, while viewing.
“Girls Trip” tells the story of four friends – veteran actresses Regina Hall (When The Bough Breaks, The Best Man Holiday), Jada Pinkett-Smith (Gotham, Magic Mike XXL) and Queen Latifah (Star,Bessie), with scene stealing actress/comedian Tiffany Haddish (The Carmichael Show) – who reunite after several years of ups, and major downs for part of the foursome, for a New Orléans trip.
Easy comparisons of the film will be made to “Bridesmaids,” and the more recently released “Rough Night,” which highlights women reuniting for big life events. However, this film avoids the “wedding” trope, and explores universal themes through four African-American women who are reuniting to support and celebrate Hall’s character (Ryan Pierce) being selected as the keynote speaker for the aforementioned fest. As the one who appears to have it all together, Ryan’s friends find out she needs support, in more ways than one, and secrets are revealed that test the boundaries and strength of the “Flossy Posse’s” friendship.
In regards to the cast, let me first say that Tiffany Haddish is a star rising towards an extremely bright path. She not only held her own along side heavyweight female leads, she often stole the show. And Regina Hall, who is adept at providing comic relief in her own right – see 2014’s “About Last Night” as an example – brought it as the straight “man” opposite the comic riot that is Haddish.
As a (gasp) middle age woman, it was also a delight to see Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett-Smith reunited on-screen – and be sure to look out for the nod to their 1996 all female lead hit (hint, hint).
But this just isn’t a film with female star power – with actors such as Larenz Tate (Power, Deuces), Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and newcomer Kofi Siriboe (Queen Sugar) bringing the heat for the male team. The female dominated audience I viewed the film with did everything but stand, although I can’t be sure what happened behind me, with the ovation given to Siriboe when his character is first introduced.
And can Mr. Tate please share what fountain of youth he has located, because he has delayed aging significantly! As friend to the crew and touring bass player Julian, Tate also brought “go for it girl” moments for one of the posse members, and a serious heart-throb factor – especially for one of my companions, who so accurately noted that you could put stills of him from both “Love Jones” and this film side by side and he’d look the same.
All in All, “Girls Trip” was the most fun I’ve had watching a film in a while, and I have no doubt that director Malcolm D. Lee (Barbershop: The Next Cut, The Best Man Holiday) and screenwriters Kenya Barris (Barbershop: The Next Cut, black*ish) & Tracy Oliver (Barbershop: The Next Cut, Survivor’s Remorse) have knocked this one out of the park, will surpass box office expectations, and create an influx of “flossy posses” at next year’s Essence Festival.
Until next thought, Thomasena