Girl Trip is a sparkly chick-flick that neither sizzles nor dazzles undermined by superfluous theatrics and clichéd one-liner inspired by the witty quip of the kind found on Twitter. After year spent without seeing each other, long-time friends Ryan (Regina Hall), Sasha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Dina (Tiffany Haddish) decide to round up for the Essence Music Festival. Each women has her own distinctive personality; Lisa, the overprotective, fretful mom of two in need to loosen up, no-nonsence, broke gossip columnist Sasha, wild and fun-loving Dina who may or may not be addicted to sex and could possibly have some temper issue and finally, Ryan the girl who has it all except for a happy marriage.
The two hours long movie offers a flimsy plotted storyline resolving around Ryan’s effort to win a contract with a major company while dealing with her philanderer of a husband and his increasingly meddling mistress. The scenes pass over the screen at breakneck speed each trying to outdo the other in the comedic department rather than following a common thread. It’s all about “hoes”, “nigg*s”, and “big d*cks” and fake butts and I’m supposed to laugh because it’s meant to be funny and everybody in the theatre is laughing their head off. Except that I don’t find any of this funny.
At his best, the humour felt as if a couple hundreds of marketing interns did a content analysis of the wittiest tweets and memes of the last couple of years and then crammed it all together in a Word document classified high importance sent to the Girls Trip’s screenwriters. At his worst, the comedic antics degraded into grotesque buffoonery. The scene where Lisa is stuck midway while zip lining and spray torrential pee on the people underneath fell in the latter category.
Then, you also have trendy black celebrities from Diddy to Ava Duvernay appearing on the screen like breathing product placement carefully chosen to tickle a well-defined audience.
While the stunts and gimmicks are tiring, there’s one thing Girl Trip gets right: the acting. It’s refreshing to see a girl gang who has chemistry together and actually looks like friends. Besides, each woman is believable in their character. It is, however, unfortunate that asides from Ryan and to some extent Sasha, the characters personalities are never expanded beyond the stereotyped traits affixed to them. Dina in particular is stuck with the unpredictable but loyal sidekick sticker and never escapes it. She doesn’t even possess a proper character arc.
And once again, the most bothersome aspect of this movie is exposed. Girl Trip is blaxploitation at its finest. A red ribbon tied capitalist product designed for and catering to black women. At first glance, Girl Trip seems like a celebration of blackness. It has cool girl Ava Duvernay, all the hip dialect and towards the end of the movie, Ryan deliver a speech that would make Iyanla and Oprah proud. It’s as if the movie is shouting “Ladies, get in formation! This is for you!”. And yet, the chick-flick only succeeds in being riddled with caricatures and stereotypes.
This steers mixed feelings in me. On one hand, I’m always happy to see black people’s endeavours succeed. Girl Trip grossed more than $100million dollar and is slated to earn even more. On the other hand, I have trouble disregarding the fact that as Girl Trip ended under the thundering sound of clapping hands, I was reminded of Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death.