Sunday, July 23, 2017

Girls Trip: A Dual Perspective

I know this is going to come as a surprise to my loyal and faithful followers, but I had absolutely no intention of seeing Girls Trip. It's not that I think a comedy featuring an all female cast can't be funny, I just didn't think this particular all female comedy would be all that funny. I saw the green band trailer that didn't make me laugh. Then I saw the raunchy red band trailer that didn't make me laugh. I thought it looked lazy, with jokes meant to shock you into laughing rather than actually being funny and clever enough to illicit a laugh. But... my opinion of movies based off their trailers have been wrong before. I would've bet money that Rough Night was going to blow Girls Trip out of the water with hilarity, and that movie wound up being pretty bad. So... what actually convinced me to see this film? Well, there were two factors. First, every time I saw one of the trailers for this film, I was with my lovely girlfriend who was laughing much more than I was and she wanted to see it. Second, if you venture over to Rotten Tomatoes, you'll see that Girls Trip sits at a very respectable 89% fresh with over 70 reviews registered. If I think a movie looks bad enough that I don't want to see it, but it gets a grade that high... it piques my interest (kind of like Valerian... I have absolutely ZERO desire to see that movie, but if it was sitting on 89%, you better believe the review would already be up... however, sitting in the low 50 percent... that one is just going to have go un-reviewed). However, after seeing the movie... and understanding that the film definitely has an audience... one that isn't exactly targeted at someone like myself... I feel that it is unfair for me to be the only voice in this instance. Therefore, I have asked my lovely girlfriend, Ashley, to lend her perspective to the film as well... so you can make your own choices.

****QUICK SIDE NOTE: Each review was written blindly, so as not to influence each other's take on the film.****

Ashley's Take:
Ryan asked me to throw in my two cents about Girls Night, maybe partly because I think he knows that a review of a film, which focuses on a group of black women in their mid-thirties spending a weekend in New Orleans to attend Essence Fest, from the perspective of a white man in his late twenties is probably a bit of a limited view... so he asked his white girlfriend in her late twenties to bring some, albeit still very white, insight to the table.

Before I start, I want to say that Tiffany Haddish, who plays crazy party girl Dina, is going to be the next big thing. She is HILARIOUS and beautiful and Girls Night is going to catapult her into the spotlight where she belongs. I'm going to go one step further and put in writing that I think Haddish is going to gain some momentum in comedy, but she's going to blow our minds with a dramatic role. When that happens, know that I'll be sitting here stewing in how right I am.

The chemistry between Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Tiffany Haddish is real. That's what makes the movie one of the better ~lifelong friends get into a mess on vacation~ movies I've seen. More importantly though, these funny women are giving us a comedic narrative that we need more of. I had a good time watching Girls Trip. I laughed a lot, cringed over how truly terrible and awkward white people are, and found myself imagining a life where Tiffany Haddish is my wife and we live happily ever after. The only reason I didn't give Girls Trip an higher grade is because the predictability of the story left you wanting more. Regardless, I'm very much looking forward to the sequel (because if Pitch Perfect can have three fucking movies, this BETTER get a sequel).

My Take: 
I didn't hate Girls Trip, but I certainly didn't enjoy it. I'd read a few reviews saying it was the next Bridesmaids, but if that's what we're comparing it to on the comedy spectrum, it falls pretty far from the target. I thought most of the humor in the movie was quite lazy. Most of the jokes in the film were recycled from previous films that performed them better. I thought a lot of the sight gags in the film were leading up to something funnier than what was delivered. However, there were moments that actually caught me off guard and had me laughing. One of the biggest turn offs for me in the trailer is a scene when Jada Pinkett-Smith's character is supposed to be zipping across a crowded pathway from one rooftop to the other, but gets stuck in the middle. The catch here is... she's had a lot to drink and has to pee. She is unable to hold it in and lets it out on the onlookers below. Parts of this are shown in the advertisements and I thought it made the movie look even worse. Turns out this is one of the funnier moments in the movie. Turns out the scatological humor here was actually a lot funnier than it appeared and the cast went further with it than I expected... with very humorous results (this is something Rough Night failed to do entirely). And with most ensemble comedies there is always one performer who stands out above the rest. Here, it's relatively unknown actress Tiffany Haddish. Not all of her jokes land (in fact I'd say it's about 50/50), but when they do, even the most curmudgeonly of movie patrons will find it hard to stifle their laughter. She gives 110% to the role and I applaud her comedic courageousness.

The structure of the film was also something I had a big problem overcoming. The plot is so predictable, by the end of the first act I could've looked over and told the people next to me exactly how the movie was going to go. There are so many blatant set-ups, there are only obvious payoffs and that's exactly what we get. Yet, there was earnestness in the characters, which (barely) overshadows the rigid structure the film plots out. I can appreciate that these characters aren't stock characters (even though they're in a stock plot). They're multi-dimensional and very earnest women. In fact, the best part of the movie isn't even a very funny scene. One of the women gives a speech on respecting yourself as a woman and it is a speech that every young woman (hell any young person) should hear because it's empowering as well as poignant. Normally, when a character in a movie like this has a big revelatory speech at the end of the film, it's nice to see a change in the character, but there's no real powerful message delivered. Girls Trip actually delivers this powerful message. So, for all its faults, there are still some diamonds in the rough. I think, though, most of the humor just wasn't targeted at a viewer such as myself. It isn't a total waste of time, but it's nothing I say you need to rush out to see. In fact, I still maintain that the only two movies worth anyone's time right now are Baby Driver and Dunkirk.  Go see one of them. Now.

Ashley's Grade: B-
Ryan's Grade: C-

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