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Girls Trip is a filthy, hilarious gem

This movie should make Tiffany Haddish a star.

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

The best thing about Girls Trip is that the film sees genitalia humor not simply as a dare, but as something to commit to 150 percent and be immensely proud of. No scene is too small or too serious for a dick joke. No combination of words is too filthy to apply to lady parts. No prop is safe from thrusty, lusty pantomimes.

While on its surface, Girls Trip follows in the footsteps of Hollywood’s women-behaving-badly reaction to the Hangover filmsthe bro-com trilogy about bachelor parties gone rudely awry — in this one realm in particular, it easily tops its predecessors. It’s one of the raunchiest comedies the “misbehaving women” genre has ever seen.

Well-behaved women rarely make history, the saying goes. Misbehaving ones, then, have become something of a cinematic fascination since the first Hangover movie debuted in 2009. Think: Bridesmaids (2011), Bad Teacher (2011), How to Be Single (2016), Bad Moms (2016), Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016), Snatched (2017), and, earlier this summer, Rough Night.

A lot of those movies — with the exception of Bridesmaids — were middling experiences, following the same sequence of raunch, alcohol, disaster, and redemption. And Girls Trip doesn’t break the mold: The plot revolves around the reunion of four girlfriends, known as the Flossy Posse, for one raucous weekend in New Orleans.

But what the movie does so well, and what sets it apart, is the way it unapologetically lives up to its promise of raunch and sleaze.

Even if Girls Trip isn’t your kind of movie, you might still admire the film’s commitment and determination to shock you. But it’s so much more fun if you’re into that sort of thing.

Tiffany Haddish steals the entire film

Girls Trip’s protagonist Ryan (Regina Hall) is also the narrator. A relationship expert who touts that “women can have it all,” she’s successful, married, and on the verge of becoming the next Oprah. It follows, then, that Girls Trip’s script is full of mentions of Ryan “having it all,” a reference to the now-famous 2012 Atlantic article by Anne-Marie Slaughter. But the movie doesn’t really explore the struggle to balance career and family — Ryan’s work mainly consists of silly conversations with her agent (Kate Walsh).

Instead, both Girls Trip and Ryan are more concerned with the fraying friendship between Ryan and her girlfriends: hungry-for-clicks gossip website editor Sasha (Queen Latifah), funemployed Dina (Tiffany Haddish), and doting mother Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith). Ryan’s success has scored the group an all-expenses-paid trip to Essence Fest in New Orleans — where most of those expenses are bars, drinks, and hungover breakfasts — and that’s where titular adventure of Girls Trip begins.

We don’t really know how Ryan, Sasha, Dina, and Lisa became friends, other than that they all went to college together. But without giving too much away, at some point there was a split between two of the women that has caused all four of them to fall out of touch.

We also never really learn much about any of the four women that goes beyond the archetypes they’re playing. But Hall, Latifah, Haddish, and Pinkett Smith are all game to give their characters plenty of verve and spirit, even if they’re underwritten and two-dimensional. Latifah brings a sturdy strength to Sasha, and Pinkett Smith in particular gets to dive into some fun physical comedy as the prudish Lisa becomes the butt of most of the film’s jokes.

But it’s Haddish, the least well-known actress among the four, who steals the spotlight. Haddish is a standup comic whose credits include Keanu and NBC’s The Carmichael Show, but Girls Trip shows she deserves more.

Her character Dina is brash, bold, rude, and messy, and Haddish commits to the character every step of the way. She’s an unapologetic MacGyver of raunch in this film, turning an unsuspecting fruit basket into the movie’s best moment. In one scene, Dina is explaining the type of foul and vulgar physical revenge she wants to exact on a man, and Haddish brings the joke — complete with deranged hand gestures and torso twisting — to a demented, howl-inducing level.

But Dina’s vulnerable, too. She’s the clown among her friends, who have seemingly all grown up, and she knows it. So while the character has Girls Trip’s flashiest lines and scenes by far, Haddish’s performance becomes more jarring when the actress sharpens her comedy into something more defensive than offensive, or drops the act altogether. It brings a tender humanity to Dina, who, for the entire movie, seems invincible.

By the end of the film, I was hoping Haddish’s Dina might somehow end up with her own spinoff movie. Perhaps a franchise where Dina is always on vacation. Or just a few more films where Haddish gets to do whatever she wants.

Girls Trip is pretty formulaic and predictable, but it’s impressively hilarious enough to compensate

Girls Trip’s biggest weakness is that you can guess the beats the film wants to hit before you even step into the theater. What you see in the movie’s trailers is mostly what you get: Drinking and partying become a way for the characters to explore their relationships with one another, in a similar vein to the aforementioned movies in this genre.

The story, written by Kenya Barris (Black-ish), Karen McCullah, Tracy Oliver (Barbershop: The Next Cut), and Erica Rivinoja, rarely strays from this objective, even though the film contains a few moments — including one about how white women co-opt black slang, and another about marketing the idea of “having it all” to women — where it seems like there’s plenty of opportunity to do so.

But I didn’t mind the predictability of the movie because, to be quite honest, if I’m buying a ticket to Girls Trip, it’s not because I’m looking for fancy cinematography or nonlinear storytelling or stunning visual effects. For the love of all that is holy, the movie is about characters who say “booty hole,” not some kind of overstylized Terrence Malick visual orgy.

I’m here for the dick jokes.

If I’m going to see a raunch comedy, I want the dick jokes to have their own tangential dick jokes. I want to drown in a sea of dick jokes.

And on that front, Barris, McCullah, Oliver, and Rivinoja have a winner in Girls Trip. The movie truly goes for broke with rude raunch. It shows — not tells — you that a grapefruit can be used during sex, complete with choking sounds and pulp spilling every which way. There’s an impressive amount of audacity and fearlessness on display, as Girls Trip lets its scenes swirl around onscreen for a bit, and then finds a new way to shock you, or make you smirk the next time you find yourself in the vicinity of a grapefruit.

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