It is hard to discuss Girls Trip from a qualitative perspective. I mean, objectively speaking, this isn’t a good film. It is lazily directed (by a man). It is filled with the kind of stereotypes that reek of early-2000s Sex & The City tropes. It is overflowing with some of the most blatant product and sponsorship placement (in fact, I feel a more interesting article would be something exploring the mechanics between ESSENCE Festival, all its sponsors, and Hollywood). Worst of all, it is crude to a point where it is not about lady empowerment (and trust me, I am all about sophmoric humor in movies, as evidenced by my eternal devotion to everything from the original Bachelor Party movie to White Chicks). It is all actually kind of degrading. Especially considering the luminous, funny, talented cast, that definitely deserves better.
However, it will be a hit. No questions about it. The crew at the preview screening yelled, danced, laughed and rooted at the top of their lungs. It also does it have P. Diddy, Mariah Carey, Bell Biv Devoe in it. It does have a certain overall positive message that sisterhood matters, that we are all “beautiful and strong and …”, and that fun shouldn’t end just because we are past peak midriff baring years. And, walking out, I heard more than one woman say: I can’t wait to see this again.
So what is it that they can’t wait to see again?
The story involves four friends from college, now in their early 40s, who have drifted apart. They are all, truly, the most annoying Sex & The City repeats you can imagine: Ryan (Regina Hall) is the Carrie of the crew, Sasha (Queen Latifah) is the Miranda, Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) is such a Charlotte, and the brassy, messy Dina (Tiffany Hadish) is the 2017’s Samantha. Ryan, who is en route to becoming the new Oprah, on the wings of her “You Can Have It All” bestseller, invites the girls to an all-expenses paid trip to ESSENCE Festival where she is the keynote speaker. The goal is to reconnect and get their party on, while Ryan tries to seal some big deal, negotiated by the one token white character (her agent, played as a 24/7 appropriating offender by Kate Walsh) with the other token white character. That second white character is played by Lara Grice, a Walmart type executive who is so disconnected from current times that she feels like she ambled in from a Designing Women soundstage with her smart bob, boring blazers, and constant wondering what the hell everyone that is not white is saying-because, you know, that’s what white folks are like.
Anyway, things go awry from every which way, and the next two hours are filled with public urination (from a high altitude), grown women flashing rap stars at concerts, full frontal geriatric male nudity, oral sex tutorials that would make Ron Jeremy blush, and – ok, fine – some fun and emotional beats. The exposition is both endless and completely insufficient. The male characters are all the worst stereotypes of today. The three day narrative structure is all over the place. And frankly, not even the outfits are that great (putting Jada in a mumu then in a bandage dress doesn’t constitute a make-over sequence).
Again, there are moments here that are enjoyable, and America is ready for a big, African American female driven hit this summer (and the story is pure Pitch Perfect / Bad Moms crossover, so you know Hollywood knew it will work). It will probably even get a sequel soon enough, but I can’t help but think that not just the stars, but we ALL deserve better. Lets try a little harder next time. It will go a long way.
p.s. yes, I am a white female writing this.
p.p.s. yes, we should proabbly get an African American female to weigh in too.