Bad Trip

Review by Rich Cline | 2.5/5

Bad Trip
dir Kitao Sakurai
scr Dan Curry, Eric Andre, Kitao Sakurai
prd Jeff Tremaine, Eric Andre, David Bernad, Ruben Fleischer
with Eric Andre, Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish, Michaela Conlin, Allan Graf, Kevin Cassidy, Cory DeMeyers, Charles Green, Henry Wang, Greg SmithAldridge, Peter A Chevako, Adam Meir
release US/UK 26.Mar.21
20/US Orion 1h24

andre howery haddish

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andre and howery
Connecting a series of Borat-lite pranks with a simple plot, this guerrilla-style comedy delights in putting unsuspecting bystanders into awkward situations in which the stars embarrass themselves. Without a point to it, the movie is never more than mildly amusing. But there are some funny moments along the way. Director Kitao Sakurai never quite finds the tone, missing the story's best angles while straining for contrived thrills instead.
In Florida, odd-jobber Chris (Andre) and his best pal Bud (Howery) have always wanted to go on an adventure. So when Chris learns that his school crush Maria (Conlin) is now a New York art gallery curator, and he decides to pay her a visit. He convinces Bud to borrow the hot pink car he's storing for his crazy jailbird sister Trina (Haddish), who coincidentally picks this moment to break out of prison. Oblivious to the fact that she's after them, Chris and Bud take the scenic route, pausing for various antics along the way.
In each set-piece, the actors involve random people in whatever they're up to, usually leading to a ludicrous gag involving nudity, criminality or physical injury. Or perhaps a burst of song and dance. Each sequence is elaborately staged, and observers generally react with slack-jawed disbelief. Strangely, the low-key documentary filmmaking undercuts the exaggerated silliness of the pranks, never punching the jokes in a way that will make us laugh. That's left to the actors and their largely improvised dialog. So it was clearly a lot funnier if you were there.

Andre, Howery and Haddish give straight-faced performances as ridiculously over-the-top people. In between the madcap nuttiness, there are some enjoyable character moments between them, as well as some sharp interaction with the public. Andre and Howery are engagingly hapless as they lure passers-by into their outrageous set-pieces, many of which go way, way too far. Meanwhile, Haddish chomps on the scenery as the frenzied escaped convict on their trail, leading to an impressively bonkers climax.

The comical performances are let down by slack editing and direction that seems uncertain how to make the most of a comical situation. But the real problem is that there's nothing holding the movie together. The bromance is badly underpowered, and the action subplot is even less convincing. If the comedy was more consistent, it might have held the interest, but we begin to give up waiting for the next solid laugh or cornball plot point.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, nudity 13.Mar.21

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© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall