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When one discusses female comedy films, invariably “Bridesmaids” (2011) and “Mean Girls” (2004) are mentioned. This is not it. “Girls Trip” (2017) is new and different. There is the usual chaotic series of events that accompanies film comedies, but this movie has Black females friendships as a central focus.
Written by Kenya Barris (scriptwriter of comedy hit “Black-ish”) and Tracy Oliver, this film feels real, and it is my go-to choice for a laughter fix. This movie leaves the viewer with a warm and fuzzy feeling because it is based on the real-life female friendship experiences of the writers. The Flossy Posse quartet depicted have great chemistry on-screen so the story is even more believable, despite the use of the comedy genre of the reunion and wild weekend events.
“Girls Trip” is the first film by an African-American screenwriter to pass the $100 million mark. It was also the first comedy of 2017 to pass that figure domestically in the USA.
This film is a 117-minute turbulent portrayal of how individual life events can take you in different directions, but shows how the concrete connection of early friendships ground you when times are both good and bad. This is a situation comedy where nothing goes to plan, and it’s the way the four principal characters—the Flossy Posse—handle the unexpected moments that give rise to the best comedic reactions.
A prime example of this is when the four friends have an argument and all go their separate ways. Dina (Tiffany Haddish) says to them as she stomps away, “I hate you all. I love you, but I hate you, bitch!” Haddish has many of the best one-liners in the film. Dina is portrayed as the unrestrained, immature, reactive joker who is supremely confident about everything despite having just lost her job over a sandwich.
Liz Davelli (Kate Walsh), as Ryan (Regina Hall)’s agent, also shares the limelight as a comedy genius with her smart delivery of the culturally insensitive “white woman lines” along with the lingering hugs and inappropriate use of words and actions, such as ass smacking Stewart (Mike Colter) and whispering to him, “I am so lonely,” while she body hugs him in front of his wife, and then leering after him as he walks away, saying “Oh! Gosh, that man knows how to exit a room. Woof!”. She is brilliant as the token white woman.
“Girls Trip”‘s main focus is the story of Ryan who is on the edge of a major public breakthrough, although each of the other members of the Flossy Posse are equally represented with characteristics that are regularly found in female friendship groups: business-oriented, empathy, determination, and risk-taking. The performances of the main four characters is mostly balanced with fairly equal attention paid to the backstories and complex humanity of all members of the Flossy Posse, which are progressively revealed. “Girls Trip” subtly charts the changes in personal relationships and friendship dynamics and shows how each woman’s decision can impact the life and reality of her close friends.
Ryan is married to retired football player Stewart Pierce; they are the picture-perfect power couple who sell their dream lives as the template for people who want to “have it all”; however, the facade of their personal lives together soon shows cracks of infidelity and unselected infertility. Ryan and Stewart are content to exist behind an illusion of happiness for the sake of their public brand. Their friends, especially Dina, frequently call them out as “plastic” and “fake.”
There is an inevitable fallout, yet when the friends are finally reunited at the end of the film, Ryan says in her keynote Essence speech, “I have done such a great job of pretending so many times before, but there are some people, when you see them, you just can’t pretend anymore. Because they know … you. The real you.”
One of my personal favourite scenes is the dance battle in the nightclub. The reality and complete range of female friendship is right there: the bond of unity, the angst, the rivalry, the support, and the musical soundtrack. This scene shows that the Flossy Posse is a “ride or die” crew, especially when mild-mannered Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) starts the physical fight because her tsunami drink “wore off.” She fights like a mother bear whose cubs are under threat. They all do; they are totally united as one.
In this film, every detail counts, even the “You can’t buy Sisterhood” patch on Lisa’s denim jacket that is shown in the closing scenes, along with the music like “I’m Every Woman” by Whitney Houston.
It’s a film that makes you laugh and cry simultaneously, and sometimes cringe with embarrassment, but mostly laugh.
Ryan concludes the film with this speech: “I don’t know what the future will bring. Love or heartbreak, joy or pain, but right now it’s bright. The one thing I know for sure is my girls will be there. No matter who else steps in the picture, my girls are my constant. They give me the permission to be who I am. And I am going to be me. We’re going to be us.”
The film’s finale is a dance sequence in New Orleans after the weekend’s events that sums up the exuberance of Flossy Posse’s friendship as they sashay and sing their way along the streets both as a close friendship unit, but also as individuals dancing to their own beats.
“Girls Trip” is a film that highlights and celebrates Black womanhood in a variety of forms. This includes a honour roll call of Black excellence with people like Iyanla Vanzant, Mariah Carey, Mike Epps, Terry McMillan, Morris Chestnut, Estelle, Common, Ne-Yo, and Ava DuVernay who specifically talks about “Black Girl Magic”; DuVernay says, “It feels like a reminder, a rallying call, a term of endearment.” “Girls Trip” is all about the journey that is “Black Girl Magic.”