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Girls Trip

Sugar and spice and all things nice - that's not what the girls in director Malcolm D Lee's raucous comedy are made of. Indeed, the central quartet of fun-loving forty-somethings are more likely to smear the ingredients of the 19th century nursery rhyme over their naked body parts, or chug them down with absinthe. Girls Trip performs a brazen gender-flip on The Hangover and dispenses four friends to New Orleans to make embarrassing memories they can laugh about for the rest of their lives. Scriptwriters Kenya Harris and Tracy Oliver don't spare the characters' blushes, including one delirious sequence involving a deluge of bodily fluids that gives new meaning to raining on someone's parade. The ace in the film's hole is comedian Tiffany Haddish, who blows all of her co-stars off the screen with a virtuoso performance reminiscent of Melissa McCarthy's scene-stealing turn in Bridesmaids. Hurricane Haddish wreaks maximum devastation when her party girl demonstrates how to satisfy a man by vigorously simulating the perfect technique using a banana and a holed out grapefruit. Somehow, Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith maintain poker faces in the eye of that particular storm. I was doubled up in exquisite hysteria, tears of joy streaming down my face. Girls Trip is a delirious guilty pleasure. Ryan (Regina Hall), Sasha (Latifah), Lisa (Pinkett Smith) and Dina (Haddish) are lifelong friends, whose busy schedules have kept them apart for five years. Lisa is recovering from a painful divorce from her cheating husband while journalist Sasha has abandoned her moral compass to pay the rent with a salacious celebrity gossip blog. Ryan and her husband, retired American football player Stewart Pierce (Mike Colter), are on the verge of polishing their brand to a lustre with a multimillion-dollar TV deal off the back of her best-selling book, You Can Have It All. Ryan's promotional duties include a keynote speech at Essence Music Festival in New Orleans and she decides to combine work with pleasure by inviting her gal pals for a VIP weekend of excess. Single mother Lisa has been chaste for too long in fun-loving Dina's eyes, so when a handsome student (Kofi Siriboe) takes an interest, the other girls encourage Lisa to enjoy a lusty fling. Meanwhile, bass player Julian (Larenz Tate), who holds a torch for Ryan, is also in the city to showcase his musical skills. Girls Trip succeeds where so many adult-oriented comedies falter: it delivers a barrage of deafening laughs, sweetened by winning chemistry between the lead actors. Every time Haddish is off screen and we can draw breath, the script resorts to frothy soap opera staples: friendship, betrayal and emotional healing. Those suds are not enough to wash away the filth in the scriptwriters' mouths. Lee's picture is an all-you-can-eat buffet of naughty but nice.