If you can stomach a graphic demonstration the grapefruit technique with a banana you can handle anything. You can also have fun with Girls Trip. If you have to Google the term for understanding, your position is 50/50. That’s your watermark.
From director Malcom D. Lee and a script by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver, Girls Trip manifests, in many ways, as a deeply formulaic endeavour. Four forty-something women get together after years of drifting apart to spend a weekend reliving the hyperactivity of their high school heydays. One is now a big-shot celebrity relationship guru with suppressed martial woes; one an uptight single mother who’s forgotten her youth; another who acts like she’s still living in her youth; and a fourth who’s broke and has bad blood with the first. They’re the American Pie: Reunion troupe with more ‘hell yeah’s and fewer red party beakers.
The ups and downs that follow come just as expected , led by a plot consistent of wholly predictable beats and rhythms. Yet, Girls Trip still stands out in the hen-flick crowd. For one thing, the film is definitely funny – mostly at a crude and gleefully smutty fashion – whilst it’s led too by a strong and likeable cast. Queen Latifa’s probably your most recognisable name, playing broke Sasha, who has the beef with Regina Hall’s Ryan. The pair are joined by Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish, both having a whale of a time.
Relative anonymity’s no bad thing in this cast line up. The central quartet may well be joined on screen by a host of impressive cameos – from Estelle and Ne-Yo to Mariah Carey – but there’s much to be gained at the heart of the film through more relatable female portraits. Their success and somewhat lavish approach to money might bear uncomfortable association with the same found in the Sex and the City films but note when it was that any feature last celebrated a group of entirely black friends simply allowed to have unadulterated on screen fun? It’s a pointed line that sees Haddish moan ‘This ain’t no women’s march, I don’t wanna be walking!’ The Help and Hidden Figures, both thoroughly worthy films, have set a precedent of burden upon black actresses to fight the necessary fight. Girls Trip may rough around the edges and a bit clunky but there’s a feeling of unavoidable empowerment subversively powered by its cast.
Even in weaker moments of the film, which feels longer than its two hour runtime by virtue of a sense of cine-déjà vu, the evident abundance of fun being enjoyed by the cast proves infectious.
Girls Trip may be a troubled film but it’s one that its target audience should lap up. It’s too glossy and commercial to be a subversive triumph but box office success may well persuade studios that this really is a demographic worth making films with.