By Heidi Stevens
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “Girls Trip” is killing it at the box office. It earned $30.4 million its first weekend, the best opening for an R-rated comedy since 2015, when “Ted 2” opened to $33.5 million.
“Girls Trip” is an important movie with the added advantage of being a riot.
Important because women want to see themselves on big screens, and women exist in a lot more shades than white.
Important because it shows us four smart, hilarious, authentic women with four completely different personalities and desires and goals.
Important because there aren’t enough movies in which the women are the ones with the unabashed sexual appetites.
Important because it gives Tiffany Haddish a shot to flex her formidable comedy muscles, and she slays.
As director Malcolm D. Lee told The Hollywood Reporter, “Four black women can open a movie and it does not have to be about the space program, OK?”
Yep. (Although I loved “Hidden Figures.” So did Lee, he’s careful to point out.)
And “Girls Trip” is killing it at the box office. It earned $30.4 million its first weekend, the best opening for an R-rated comedy since 2015, when “Ted 2” opened to $33.5 million.
“Ted 2” hardly moved comedy forward. “Girls Trip” has the potential to. Surely (surely!) Hollywood is slowly getting the message that women are capable of opening films, and that those women don’t have to be, should not always be, white.
With all that in mind, a tiny “Girls Trip” quibble.
I’m not crazy about the treatment of Simone (Deborah Ayorinde), the “other woman” character.
She’s trashed and dehumanized and even assaulted at one point, and it’s tough to watch.
It’s jarring in a movie about women lifting each other up and forgiving each other’s mistakes and accepting each other’s shortcomings.
The movie does a really lovely job of letting the rest of its characters have a few flaws. The four friends don’t demand perfection from one another. They’re real.
But with Simone, it’s war.
Maybe that felt real to the writers. But I couldn’t help wishing they’d granted her a little more humanity and spent a little less time tearing her down. I’m not saying she needed to become the late-joining fifth member of the Flossy Posse, but she also didn’t need to be at the center of a bar brawl.
It’s hard to cheer (or laugh) when a woman gets beaten up, even when she’s sleeping with someone else’s husband.
My friends and I grabbed a drink after the movie and discussed the highs and lows. We all felt a little uneasy over the Simone treatment, and my friend Nneka said it made her think about something Jada Pinkett Smith, one of the “Girls Trip” stars, wrote about her husband’s first wife.
Pinkett Smith offers occasional life and relationship advice on her Facebook page. The post Nneka was thinking of talks about blended families, specifically Will Smith’s son from his first marriage.
“When I married Will, I knew Trey was part of the package … period!” she writes. “If I didn’t want that … I needed to marry someone else. Then I learned if I am going to love Trey … I had to learn to love the most important person in the world to him … his mother. And the two of us may not have always LIKED each other … but we have learned to LOVE each other.”
It’s not apples and apples. But it does make you wonder what Pinkett Smith was feeling during some of the Simone scenes.
“Girls Trip” does so much right. A lot of viewers, I’m sure, will feel it does everything right. My Simone quibble is just that, a quibble.
But if Hollywood finally wakes up and smells the audiences-aren’t-all-white-and-male coffee and starts greenlighting a more diverse set of offerings, I hope we start to see a few that refuse to pit women against women.
The movie does so well at showing women build each other up. I wish it spent a little less time showing them tear another woman down.