Raunchy, rude and weapons-grade wicked, “Girls Trip” is the funniest big studio comedy since “Trainwreck.”
It’s “Bridesmaids” with brass, “The Hangover” with flava and does for New Orleans what that film did for Vegas — showcases it as headquarters for hedonism. Sin City on the bayou is back, thanks to this R-rated comic Chamber of Commerce commercial.
And while it lets stars Jada Pinkett-Smith, Queen Latifah and Regina Hall land laughs, it demands the most of motor-mouthed/potty-mouthed Tiffany Haddish. And girlfriend pays the bills.
As the dim bulb with the hair-trigger temper and impulse control issues among her Flossy Posse of old college friends, Haddish’s Dina makes the picture. For the film’s uproarious first 40 minutes or so, every dirty word out of her mouth is dirty-comedy gold. And when the film loses track of her for an hour, it’s all the poorer for it.
Four friends gather around their pal, “New Oprah” self-help star Ryan (Regina Hall) at Essence Festival, a gathering of empowered black women in the Crescent City.
Sasha (Queen Latifah), once a promising journalist, now does celebrity gossip and is going broke in the process. Lisa (Jada Pinkett-Smith) is a nurse, mother-of-two who never got over her divorce and is years past her last sexual encounter.
We’ve seen Dina come off as too dumb to pick up on the news that she’s been fired for beating up a colleague who stole her yogurt out of the fridge at work.
And narrator Ryan, who preaches “You can have it ALL” to her fans and is on the verge of a merchandise deal with her ex-jock “partner” husband (Mike Colter). But it’s all just a mirage.
Nothing like a bacchanal in the Big Easy — a chance to “get turnt” (blitzed beyond reason) to bring everybody’s issues to a head, and everybody’s issues with everybody else to blows — or near blows.
“I’m-o PUT HANDS on her,” after getting “white girl wasted” amid street band revelry, bar crawls, #blackgirlmagic seminars and performances by Diddy, New Edition, Common and Mariah Carey.
You’ve seen Haddish’s hilarious discussion of drug smuggling orifices in the TV ads, her mime-abuse, and maybe the zip line “accident” scene. Throw in a little hobo full frontal, a dance club dance-off and a fisheye lens slo-mo absinthe drug trip, and you’ve got a comedy with more “Oh no they DIDN’T” moments than any film this year.
The characters are archetypes, but the players put their mark on “the stick-in-the-mud mom,” “the over-achiever,” “Ms. Peaked-too-Soon” and the stoner. This Malcolm D. Lee film wouldn’t be an “authentic” African-American comedy without dollops of self-help sentiment, female empowerment and the power of prayer. Because even Jesus lets a lot of stuff slide in New Orleans.
And like every R-rated comedy in the Age of Apatow, it takes too long getting to a too-obvious conclusion. Vulgar takes extra time, you know.
But finding something funny, coarse and fresh to show us after “Bridesmaids” is tough, so relish “Girls Trip” for what it is, and Haddish (“Keanu”) for the gift of her Chris Tucker/breakout moment. An entire performance packed with “Don’t try this at home” is a wonder to behold.
MPAA Rating:R for crude and sexual content throughout, pervasive language, brief graphic nudity, and drug material
Cast: Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Larenz Tate
Running time: 2:02