Netflixable? A “Bad Trip” that goes a prank or two too far

If Hollywood is going to give screenwriting Oscar nominations to “Borat” movies, brace yourself for pranks, pranks and more pranks pictures.

“Bad Trip” is more at the “Bad Grandpa” with Johnny Knoxville end of the practical joke pictures spectrum. A little edge, a few confrontations with angry rural America, waaaay too many bodily function/bodily fluid gross-out gags.

There are a few scattered laughs, but the big take-away from this how easy it is to make Tiffany Haddish a gangsta nobody recognizes, and how how EVERYbody is scared of Tiffany Haddish when she goes gangsta.

The “plot” is just two minimum wage drones (Eric Andre and Lil Rel Howery) who take a road trip in a pink Crown Vic from suburban Tampa to New York.

Chris is chasing high school crush (Michaela Conlin) to an art opening there, and they have a few days. So why not take the Blue Highways there?

But that Crown Vic with the “Bad Bitch” vanity plates and “Bad Bitch” scrawled across the rear window? It belongs to Trina (Haddish), the inmate/thug sister of Bud (Howery). And when she escapes prison, she “ain’t tryin’ to KILL nobody.” Only she is. And she keeps showing their pictures and pix of the car in diners up and down the Eastern seaboard, shocking one and all with her loud threats and imprecations of violence.

Haddish, in corn rows, neck tattoos and coveralls, is recognizable. But nobody does. She’s that frightening. Even when she’s asking random strangers — including a cop — “You want a baby mama?”

She storms into Bud’s phone repair shop in her debut scene, bulls her way behind the counter and empties the register, warning “real” costumers “You didn’t see NOTHING” and “I REMEMBER faces!”

They believe her.

Andre is the headliner here, staging flip outs, gas station “accidents,” an “I met a GIRL” production number utterly disrupting a mall, and a zoo enclosure guy-in-a-gorilla-suit rape gag.

Oh my.

He gets kicked in the mall, enrages people left and right in a country music bar, gets cussed on golf courses and in diners, and leaves a lot more folks shocked, dismayed and concerned than furious.

Lucky him.

There’s a hint of America’s shared humanity (Black folks, and some white folks try to “help”), and bigger doses of the country’s racial divide. But the “poke the bear” bits fall well short of Sacha Baron Cohen’s most “out there” antics. And while there are scenes which seem realistic, too many others leave you questioning, “Ok, I KNOW those folks see the cameras on that bus/capturing that mall dance number,” etc.

Howery is basically his straight man for much of this. Well, save for the faked (editing suggests the “bystanders” knew this was fakery) car crash and the Chinese finger-trapped penis gag.

And then there’s the pals’ recreation (in front of real people at a charity reception) of “White Chicks,” made up and dressed up like Shawn and Marlon Wayans in that black-men-as-white-women comedy, remembering to “think white thoughts” and starting conversations with the unsuspecting patrons of this gala with “I’m going to see Megyn Kelly give a TED Talk later.”

Yes there are laughs, but a lot more cringes without giggles.

But every time things go wrong, lame or too gross, here’s Haddish stealing a police car by TEARING THE DOOR off, crashing (literally) an art opening and scaring Elderly White America into eight more years of voting Republican.

MPA Rating: R (Pervasive Language|Drug Use|Crude Sexual Content|Some Graphic Nudity)

Cast: Eric Andre, Tiffany Haddish, Lil Rel Howery, Michaela Conlin

Credits: Directed by Kitao Sakurai, script by Dan Curry, Eric André, Kitao Sakurai. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:24

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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