By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
“Girls Trip” is a great ensemble film, even though some of the themes and one-liners were a bit over the top. The much anticipated summer film, which reached the No. 2 movie for its opening weekend, tells the story of four Black female college buddies who haven’t seen each other in five years and who decide to meet up at the Essence Fest in New Orleans.
Queen Latifah stars as a celebrity blogger Sasha; Regina Hall stars as relationship specialist Ryan; Jada Pinkett Smith stars as nurse Lisa and Tiffany Haddish stars as recently unemployed office worker Dina. And while all four women were besties in college and even called themselves the Flossy Posse, since their last get together, there has been animosity between a couple of the women. Frankly, even given their grudges, the women are living their own lives. Sasha is used to the world of celebrity and parties, while she makes her living examining and sometimes trashing people’s lives in print. Lisa is the overprotective mom of two young children, who has been gladly missing the dating scene. Dina, who wears hoop earrings darn near as large as a hula hoop, is the loud mouthed, no filter bestie whose mind is constantly on sex. Ryan is married nearly in name only as she and hubby Stewart—played by Mike Colter—continue a public persona that is generating big bucks for their books and television show.
The Posse manages to let bygones be bygones, as they anticipate watching Ryan keynote Essence Fest in a speech about successful partnerships. A wrench is thrown into the mix, when a photo of Stewart and another woman appears online. A piece of eye candy that is also thrown into the mix is “Queen Sugar’s” chocolate delight Kofi Siriboe, who plays Malik and becomes the object of desire for Lisa—of course at the urging of the other three women who feel that she needs to get her groove back. And speaking of Stella getting her groove back, renowned author Terri McMillan makes a cameo appearance as one of the guests at the Essence Festival, as many other Black pop culture figures also make cameos. These include Iyanla Vanzant, who goes toe to toe with Sasha, because of something that Sasha had written in her blog. The scene between these two is hilarious, as Vanzant tells Sasha that if she doesn’t stop writing negative ink about her that they would be involved in a “Middle Passage experience and a fight for survival, and I will win.”
New Edition makes a cameo as part of the entertainment lineup, as does Maxwell. Mariah Carey, P Diddy, the rapper Ma$e, Faith Evans and Baby Face, among other stars make appearances. After all, it is the Essence Festival.
Chicago native Larenz Tate stars as Julian, a friend of Ryan who has to rescue the women on more than one occasion. And as could have been so easily done, director Malcolm D. Lee creates just enough chemistry between him and Ryan, but not enough where things get out of hand. This was a good departure from scenes where Lee could have gone, but he simply teased the audience.
“Girls Trip” is a great film that shows Black women letting it all hang out, having fun, but in the end standing together in the face of adversity. Of course, there’s the cheating hubby and the side chick who just doesn’t seem to want to give up. But these things are present in the daily lives of Black women, and Lee shows the depth of existence for many Black women everywhere by showcasing these topics in a vibrant, historical and scenic atmosphere such as New Orleans.
When I saw the film in Lincolnshire, there were white men and women in the audience, which either sheds light on the popularity of Queen Latifah or the fact that folks get enough of the white women buddy movies, with the one fat chick inserted for comic relief, and they are interested in seeing a similar film from the Black perspective. And the cast, crew, director and everyone associated with this film can be proud of its widespread, mainstream appeal. All women are fantastic in their performances, but Haddish, who stars in the recently cancelled “The Carmichael Show,” is a standout—mostly for her “over-the-top” lines that I mentioned at the beginning of this column.
“Girls Trip” is playing everywhere in the Chicagoland area.