Without question, GIRLS TRIP is a confusing film that is both overly familiar and padded beyond belief. The good news, however, is the amount of genuine laughs that separate this from the other recent ‘grown women go wild’ movies that have wasted our collective time.

The set-up for Malcolm D. Lee’s latest film is simple (regardless of how long the opening scene of painful exposition runs): Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, and Tiffany Haddish are four lifelong friends who travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Music Festival. Secrets are revealed, bad decisions are made, and hijinks, of course, do ensue.

Despite being forced to check off all of the items on the ‘black movie trope’ list (in addition to an awkwardly forced prayer scene, Morris Chestnut makes an appearance as… Morris Chestnut), GIRLS TRIP succeeds by being a ‘mature’ gross-out comedy that treats its characters as if they are real human beings. Unlike ROUGH NIGHT or BAD MOMS, the featured quartet are (mostly) grounded in reality — with the bonus being that their friendship is entirely believable.

Quite fittingly, comedian Tiffany Haddish (recently of THE CARMICHAEL SHOW) has received the most attention for her portrayal of Dina; the unhinged, ‘ride or die’ wild card of the group who ends up being the most likable one. While all four women click in their roles, Dina could have turned into a walking stereotype — but Haddish, arguably, delivers the best comedic performance of the past five years.

The only real fault that derails this TRIP is the seeming lack of a skilled editor. Besides feeling like several movies, at once, there is a brilliant 85-minute long movie that is trapped somewhere inside a bloated 122-minute run time. The concert performance scenes at the music festival are as plentiful as they are unnecessary, and they serve no purpose other than bringing the story to a halt.

Regardless of its flaws, GIRLS TRIP is worth seeing (even if for Tiffany Haddish, alone), but a much tighter film would have made this the best surprise of the year.

Three and a Half out of Five Beers.

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