‘Girls Trip’ Is a Hilarious Ride Worth Taking

Girls Trip” is sure to be compared to “Bridesmaids,” or even this summer’s other wild girls’ night out movie “Rough Night,” but it’s a film all its own that is a hilarious, fun reminder of the power of female friendships.

Taking place at the Essence festival in New Orleans, “Girls Trip” is the story of four lifelong college pals reuniting for a wild weekend of fun, trying to rekindle their friendships after life has gotten in the way. There’s queen bee Ryan (Regina Hall), balancing a lifestyle brand and a cheating husband; Sasha (Queen Latifah), a gossip columnist struggling financially; Lisa, (Jada Pinkett Smith), a divorced mom looking for connection, and Dina (Tiffany Haddish), a total wild card.

Ryan is attending the festival as a guest speaker, giving her friends primo access to some of its features, including performances by Diddy, Common and New Edition, who absolutely get the audience on and off screen dancing in their seats. But as the ladies reconnect, secrets and truths come out, as well as everyone’s wild side. There’s enough ziplining gone awry, drug trips, dance offs and male objectification to make it one of the most fun movie going experiences this summer.

Haddish pretty much walks away with the movie as the loyal and fierce Dina. Whether she’s teaching the ladies the fine art of “grapefruiting” — a piece of sexual advice that has to be seen to be believed — or willfully mishearing her boss try to fire her, she pops off the screen as a vibrant comedian. She’s going to give Melissa McCarthy a run for her money as the boldest performer to come out of an ensemble comedy this decade.

It’s also a pleasant surprise to see Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett-Smith be so funny on screen, after lengthy stints in dramatic TV and movies (last year’s “Bad Moms” excluded). Pinkett-Smith is especially charming as dowdy mom Lisa, who needs to get her groove back big time. Luckily, a handsome young man is more than happy to help, and her growing confidence leads to some major bedroom shenanigans.

Hall also comes out as a classic leading lady in this movie, after years of playing second fiddle in countless movies. She plays Ryan with an elegant mix of frustration, poise and a small wild side that peeks out here and there.

Decked out in Olivia Pope white and touting the mantra that “You can have it all,” she is a second coming of Oprah for modern women. But the struggles with her cheating husband start to crack that perfect surface, and as the movie progresses she learns the power of valuing herself and relying on her friends to help her through. It’s a powerful message in the age of Instagram perfection, where we present better than reality versions of ourselves to everyone, including friends and family.

But that makes it sound like the movie is all “rah rah sisterhood” heavy handed when it couldn’t be further from the truth. Proof of that comes in a variety of ways, including a dance off with Ryan’s husband’s mistress that culminates in an all out fist fight, and an amazing scene of the women tripping on absinthe. Queen Latifah going to town on a lamp she thinks is a hot dude is the highlight of a wacky sequence that also features Kate Walsh (Ryan’s loving but dorky agent) taking a swig of candle wax.

“Girls Trip” is a must see in the theaters with a big group of friends to truly experience the energy and humor radiating off the screen from the leading ladies.

Girls Trip” is in theaters July 21.