Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 2017. Universal Pictures, Will Packer Productions. Story by Erica Rivinoja, Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver, Screenplay by Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver. Cinematography by Greg Gardiner. Produced by Malcolm D. Lee, William Packer. Music by David Newman. Production Design by Keith Brian Burns. Costume Design by Danielle Hollowell. Film Editing by Paul Millspaugh. New York Film Critics 2017.
Four women who were best friends and roommates in college don’t spend much time together anymore, so when super successful author and television host Regina Hall is invited to be the keynote speaker at the Essence festival, she sees it as an opportunity for a reunion. The other gals need the vacation, with serious journalist turned trashy celebrity blogger Queen Latifah in deep financial trouble, buttoned up Jada Pinkett Smith completely overcome by motherhood duties and wild card Tiffany Haddish, who steals this entire film outright, recently fired from her job (though she doesn’t really notice or mind). This group take their present woes and past conflicts to New Orleans where they unleash a whole heap of madcap fun on the city, including public urination in mid-air, fruit-related oral sex mishaps, a bar fight and a misunderstanding of how to add absinthe to cocktails. At the centre of the madcap fun is the possibility that Hall and her husband might take their brand to a new level with a television show, a situation threatened when the other girls find out a secret about Hall’s husband that they’re afraid to tell her about. The film is a wild ride that provides plenty of laughs from a cast of actors who have marvelous chemistry, their appeal more than making up for a grossly generous running time and a final third that takes far too long to resolve itself. The overly complicated screenplay can’t decide on what level of ridiculous to maintain, it has a few too many serious conversations between old friends that don’t mix well with crazier moments like old man frontal nudity at a crummy motel; thankfully, director Malcolm D. Lee at least keeps his bountiful material moving at a steady pace, and as attempts at female versions of The Hangover go, this one is far more successful than Bad Moms or Rough Night.