First Hit: Some very funny scenes, a few overly gross scenes, all in a satisfying but too long film.
I don’t mind grossness in a film. However, when more than one person pisses on a crowd from a zip line and the amount of piss and the way it sprays around is totally un-real, it is a turnoff, adds no value and is not funny. This and other stupid scenes when juxtaposed against some very fine and really, out-loud, funny scenes, could keep this film from being a classic hit, years from now.
Strong friendships between four black women is the basis for this strong film as they reconnect and re-find their deep love and respect for each other. Many of us have friendships that have lasted through the years. I’ve got two friends, whom I’ve known for over 50 years. Although we may not speak with each other very often, but when we do we find the place where trust and having each other’s backs rises to the top.
This film explores all this and more because, Ryan (Regina Hall) is in a farce of a marriage, promotes her life as having it all, and subjugates herself for money, her husband’s infidelity and fame. Then there is Sasha (Queen Latifah), who is financially struggling because, her once strong communication skills are being wasted on her TMZ type website that has no viewers. She found herself in this position because Ryan quit their business partnership. Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) has become a protective stay at home divorced mom. The fun, strong, smart girl has been both emotionally and sexually suppressed. Dina (Tiffany Haddish) is the wild girl, the fun girl and the bold girl. She’s the one in the group that pushes the edge of experience for all of them through her boldness.
They get together in New Orleans because Ryan gets an all-expenses paid trip to promote herself and husband Stewart (Mike Colter) to a possible television production company while at a conference. Although the unraveling of their back stories’ is predictable, the humor used is, at times, sparkling and strong. One example was the demonstration of using a grapefruit in sex, very funny. All of these women were perfect and well chosen for the character they represented and it showed that they became friends during the filming.
Hall was perfectly reserved, suppressed, and wanting to live her truth of having it all. She showed the rediscovery of her true self well. Latifah was wonderful and didn’t dominate the film as she has in other films. She fit effortlessly and was perfect as the woman who had Ryan’s back no matter what. Smith’s character evolved the most during the film. The opening scenes where she acts repressed were on the edge of being pressed, but her clothing made it all work. Then as she evolves you can see how she fit into the group years ago. Haddish was like having a wild animal loose in a positive way. She brought spark, edginess and bold fun to this role. She was the spark plug. Colter was strong as Ryan’s philandering husband. His voice is so soft and smooth which he uses as an asset for convincing Ryan to buy into the hype. Erica Rivinoja and Kenya Barris wrote a wonderful story that embodied some real insights to friendship. Malcolm D. Lee did a good job of directing this film. My criticisms are that he needed to remove 30 minutes of film, it was way too long, and that the overdoing of some scenes took it from being a strong film and moved it toward being silly.
Overall: It needed some tightening up, but otherwise it was a very funny and strong film.