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dir Malcolm D Lee
scr Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver
prd Malcolm D Lee, William Packer
with Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Larenz Tate, Mike Colter, Kate Walsh, Kofi Siriboe, Lara Grice, Deborah Ayorinde, Iyanla Vanzant, Mike Epps
release US 21.Jul.17, UK 26.Jul.17
17/US Universal 2h02
Watch out, boys: Smith, Hall, Latifah and Haddish
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
This may start as a female twist on the Hangover movies, but it quickly begins making serious observations about relationships and society. What follows is an entertaining mix of raucously outrageous comedy and more thoughtful themes. And while it has important things to say, we basically only remember ruthless scene-stealer Tiffany Haddish.
In the 25 years since university, the Flossy Posse has slowly lost touch with each other. So self-help star Ryan (Hall) plans a reunion, inviting gossip blogger Sasha (Latifah), hard-working single mum Lisa (Smith) and hard-partying hothead Dina (Haddish) to EssenceFest in New Orleans. But Sasha has just received a photo of Ryan's celebrity athlete husband Stewart (Colter) in a clinch with an Instagram model (Ayorinde), and Dina proposes getting violent revenge. But the main need for these responsible women is to bond as they let their hair down for a change.
The double-whammy message is that it's sometimes essential to set worries aside and have fun, and to stop pretending life is great and make it truthful. Three characters' story arcs connect to these themes, with Hall's Ryan in the focal point as a prominent woman who has a lot to lose by revealing the truth about her marriage. But the screenplay hedges its bets by offering her an alternative in another old friend, a soulful musician (Tate) who also happens to be visiting New Orleans.
In other words, for all the adult-oriented rudeness, the film has a safe, soft centre. Thankfully, these actresses are adept at papering over the joins, including the nagging sense that they couldn't have been at university together. Sure, Haddish is a decade younger than her costars, but it's impossible to stop laughing at her fast-paced banter and riotous physicality. Meanwhile, Hall, Latifah and Smith get the deeper roles, and do a nice job with both the sassy comedy and darker drama.
If the boys are one-note, at least there are nice side roles for the likes of Walsh (as Ryan's needy agent) and Grice (as Ryan's potential sponsor). And while the film's serious messages are strong, it's the steady stream of crazy antics that will have the audience buckled over in laughter. The insane hilarity veers from drunken brawls and absinthe-fuelled hallucinations to zip-line mayhem and a jaw-dropping grapefruit demonstration. Thankfully, director Lee and the cast mercifully mute the sentimentality. And they never try to oversell any of the gags, which makes them that much funnier.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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