The bonds between black women are not something you can watch on reality-TV shows or easily catch on any TV shows right now, except maybe Insecure. (Shoutout to Issa and Molly!) Black women’s friendship is more than boozy brunches, epic catfights and screaming “Yasss Queen” to one another. I mean, don’t get me wrong—all of these are small elements of our bonds—but to fully capture and re-create the sisterhood of black girls’ friendships, you need limitless talent.
Girls Trip has just that, from the star-studded ensemble cast—Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish—to the film’s director, Malcolm D. Lee, and producer (and 2016 The Root 100 honoree) Will Packer.
Girls Trip comes out Friday, and it’s about time! We’ve been patiently waiting (to exhale) since 1995 (when Waiting to Exhale was released) for a beautiful group of black female friends who love and support one another, despite all of life’s ills, as a plotline in a major motion picture.
In order to fully understand this movie’s stretch beyond a black female version of The Hangover, you’ve got to understand that Girls Trip’s director and producer are geniuses in bringing out simple, yet compelling human nature in their characters.
First, let me tell you about the subtle complexities of each character:
Sasha: Queen Latifah plays this bad-and-boujee journalist who found her way into the gossip-blogging world and is finding it hard to keep up appearances and page views. Queen plays Sasha with integrity and a stubborn vulnerability that makes you root for her throughout the movie. Her friendship means something, but she holds on to hurt because she wants those who have wronged her to acknowledge their wrongdoing.
Ryan: Regina Hall plays this cookie-cutter, have-it-all, best-selling author, trophy wife and heir to Oprah’s throne. Ryan is married to the thick chocolate brother Stewart Pierce (played by Mike Colter, whom we all know from Luke Cage). Well, he’s no hero in this movie, and Ryan is torn between maintaining her picture-perfect image or living happily ever after in an unplanned way. Hall’s character means well but is often misguided by her own decisions.
Dina: Tiffany Haddish’s may be the most hilarious character in this movie. She steals every single scene she is in with her raunchy humor and one-liners. But there’s something refreshing about Haddish’s character. She’s the type of woman you’d kill to have as a friend because honestly, she’d kill for you. She’s the definition of ride-or-die and never spares her friends from brutal honesty. She’s a lot of things, but one thing she is not is a bad friend.
Lisa: Jada Pinkett Smith plays the resident mother hen of the group. She’s the type to wear a full-length, hand-embroidered Guatemalan skirt to the club. She’s a single mother who dotes on her two young children way too much and lives with her mother. Lisa is clearly all about family, and that is something she takes into her friendships. She’s conservative, kind and in real need of all the deliciousness that is Kofi Siriboe, who plays her young buck, Malik.
Together, these women make up the “Flossy Posse.” Sasha, Ryan, Dina and Lisa went to college together and vowed to continue their friendship long after they received their degrees. They meet up for their “girls trips” as often as they can, but the Essence Festival trip from the movie is evidently after the Flossy Posse’s meet-ups have dwindled down. This reconnection is important to the foursome, and so is each character’s growth throughout the movie.
Even though the movie relies on laughter to carry it, you can tell that the characters have been tenderly cared for. Each woman is a full person, complete with dualities in her personality. Lisa is a perfect doting mother, but it takes just a little convincing (from Dina) to get her to let young Malik give her all the sexual healing her body’s been craving. And you think that Ryan is never going to let go of her flawless image, but eventually she does. Sasha somehow avoids the one shady and lucrative action that could save her blog, and watching her character grow through moral and financial dilemmas is exhausting, but may even remind you of your own journey to being a better person. And Dina—well, she never changes, but honestly, her beautifully ratchet character doesn’t need to. Be warned: Her moments are the raunchiest and the funniest, but so worth it.
This movie is everything you think it is: a beautiful display of black not cracking on the faces of these stressed-out, middle-aged women who allow themselves an unadulterated weekend in sultry New Orleans during Essence Festival. Obviously the group’s wild card, Dina gets them into more trouble than they know how to get out of (thank God for Larenz Tate—who plays Julian Stevens—a musician-turned-heartthrob for one of the women. He’s a knight in shining armor), which is what makes the movie swim along in such hilarious fun that there’s hardly a moment without sidesplitting laughter.
Lee and Packer capture the unbreakable bonds of black women’s friendships. This special connection, despite the trials, is strong enough to take on infidelity, truth telling (over sparing feelings) and those all-too-real, I’m-sick-of-your-shit moments that end a lot of fragile friendships. No doubt, black women strive in a world that doesn’t support us the way we support it. I’ve watched my own friends lift up people, places and things that have done nothing but tear them down. The hearts of black women are large and capable of that type of love for what doesn’t always love us back.
And to see each of these characters love each other hard was just the type of refreshment we needed the silver screen to bless us with. Yes, you are going to see Girls Trip because you wanted to laugh till you cried, and you will, but you’ll also get to leave the theater with a full heart. You’ll also likely want to call up your girls and plan the next trip. I know I did: Cuba in August!