It’s always fascinating when two films with similar premises are released within a short time frame. Think White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen, or Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror for examples within the last decade. So when Rough Night and Girls Trip started their respective promotional campaigns, it took a minute to realize they were promoting two different films. Both involve a weekend of longtime friends coming together for a trip where the planned fun will quickly dissolve into something else. Sure, there are some differences. Girls Trip, unlike Rough Night, doesn’t involve a dead body. But as much as Rough Night had some fun moments with its premise, Girls Trip is by far the better film of the two. It’s not only funnier; it’s got the sense to set up four characters for its audience to care about, so when the film swings from hard comedy to melodrama, the film can handle it with ease.
In the 1990s, friends Ryan (Regina Hall), Sasha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Dina (Tiffany Haddish) were known as the Flossy Posse. Over the years, these four have remained friends, but life has taken them in different directions. Ryan is now a self-help guru who, with her husband, has turned herself into a successful brand. Sasha is a journalist whose career has shifted from credible work to gossip blogging. Lisa is a nurse and a divorced mother of two. Dina is…well, still a wild child. When Ryan is selected to give the keynote at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, she decides to get her girls together for a trip like those they had years ago.
Plenty of films offer a setup of this sort, but one thing Girls Trip does right is quickly but firmly establish the bond between its four central characters. The four have a strong group chemistry that makes it completely believable that they’d not only be friends from college, but are still friends today. That chemistry is key, because it lets the film shift tones as the script dictates with some degree of believability. And this film definitely shifts tones. There are unrelentingly silly moments, bits of slapstick, dramatic moments brought to the foreground, and some incredibly raunchy moments that, if your audience is anything like mine, will leave the theater howling with laughter.
What’s most refreshing about the film is the way it embraces the fact that these four characters are black women. Most films of this type have their characters learn how to shed some of the cultural and social norms that tend to restrict them. Girls Trip takes that a step further by embracing the specifics of being black women, and how that differs not only from character to character, but as a group from white women or black men. When taken with the undeniable humor that’s rooted in this film, it creates something that should be seen with a large group of people. So yes, this is not only something worth seeing, but it’s worth seeing with as many people as possible.