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Starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Larenz Tate, Mike Colter, Kate Walsh, Kofi Siriboe, Deborah Ayorinde. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee. (2017, 122 min). UNIVERSAL

Raunchy comedies about wild weekends are a dime a dozen. It's debatable who we can thank - or blame - for that, but it's arguable that The Hangover opened-up the floodgates for the most recent batch. Some are clever and amusing, while most shamelessly pander to the yahoos in the audience who think bodily functions and wall-to-wall expletives are inherently funny.

Girls Trip tries to have it both ways. What's remarkable is how often it actually succeeds.

The four stars make-up the Flossy Posse (which would've been a better title for the film), lifelong friends who've drifted apart over the years, but decide to have another wild fling during the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. One of them, Ryan (Regina Hall), is a successful self-help author slated to be a keynote speaker at the event. She and her husband, Stewart (Mike Colter) are publicly the perfect couple, but in reality he's an unfaithful sleaze and their marriage is in shambles; they stay together for the sake of the brand name they've established together. This doesn't sit well with her friends, especially Sasha (Queen Latifah), who runs a gossip blog and is in possession of a compromising photo showing Stewart with another woman.

Dina would rather have gone to Disneyland.
Dina would rather have gone to Disneyland.

That's really most of the actual plot. The rest of the movie consists of these girls tearing up the town, playing, drinking, fighting, meeting celebrities - there are a ton of cameos - and trying to get Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) laid. It's loud, brash, in-your-face and consistently raunchy, but because the film takes the time to establish its characters and their friendship, some of these precarious scenarios are pretty damn funny.

There are times when the film doesn't know when it quit, though. When Lisa gets stuck hovering over a crowded street while zip-lining and spectacularly loses control of her bladder, we laugh at its audacity. However, having Dina (Tiffany Haddish) follow-up and willingly do the same thing doesn't make it any funnier. In fact, most of Dina's over-the-top moments - and there's a lot of 'em - go on far longer than necessary.

Still, we genuinely like these ladies and enjoy their company enough to overlook the film's utter predictability and rather daunting running time (it moves along pretty briskly for a 122 minute movie). Girls Trip works as well as it does because of its capable cast, believable characters (even Dina) and some funny dialogue to go along with the raunchier bits. It's nasty as hell at times, but never resorts to being mean-spirited or cruel when mining for laughs (cheap as some of them are).

And if nothing else, you'll never look at a grapefruit the same way again.

EXTRA KIBBLES

  • FEATURETTES: "Planning the Trip"; "Outrageous Moments"; "The Essence of NOLA"
  • AUDIO COMMENTARY: By director Malcolm D. Lee
  • VIDEO: "Because of You" by Ne-Yo
  • DELETED SCENES & OUTTAKES
  • DVD & DIGITAL COPIES

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