"Girls Trip"

From left, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish star in "Girls Trip," which reviewer Pam Powell calls "the raunchiest, best, funniest, girlfriend movie to date."

If you think "Girls Trip" — the newest female friend film starring Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and TIffany Haddish — is just another version of "Rough Night," you're sorely mistaken. This is actually really funny! Although it's jaw-droppingly raunchy, it's a wonderful escape and fun night out.

Ryan (Hall), Sasha (Latifah), Lisa (Pinkett Smith) and Dina (Haddish) are lifelong friends from college, but as the years pass, their lives go in different directions and their bond is weakened.

Ryan, a successful author married to her business partner, Stewart (Mike Colter), is asked to be the keynote speaker at the Essence Festival in New Orleans. Missing her girlfriends, aka the Flossy Posse, she invites them to join her. It becomes a weekend of revelation, debauchery and, most importantly, reconnecting with her friends.

This is absolutely the raunchiest, best, funniest girlfriend movie to date. "Bridesmaids" and "Trainwreck," move over — there's a new kid in town.

"Girls Trip" introduces us to four very different women, and you will be able to identify with one of them. Ryan is uptight yet the envy of every woman. She's strong, beautiful and seemingly "has it all." The underlying rift between her and Sasha, the talented journalist who has sunk into the trenches of celebrity gossip writing, sets the group on edge.

It's Lisa, the mother of two, living with her mom and out of touch with men, that gives these girls a project on their trip: to help her dust off her cobwebs and have some fun.

But the true queen of the group is Dina. Her spark is more like a nuclear bomb as she verbally (and sometimes physically) decimates anyone who upsets her or messes with her friends.

While there are many subplots to the film, the driving force of the story is that Ryan's friends find out her husband is cheating on her. Attempting to still enjoy the weekend, the women get themselves kicked out of hotels, party like they're back in college, dance-fight and "dust off a few cobwebs."

With sexual situations, full-frontal male nudity and female competitiveness, this over-the-top, new take on how women interact is simply spectacular. Perhaps a few situations were borrowed, then tweaked, from other films, but it works. There's not one woman out there that can't relate to bladder issues and, yes, bodily function humor. (Just as in "Bridesmaids," the diarrhea scene makes you laugh so hard you might have related issues!)

This is a total escapism movie. To its detriment, it's very predictable and sometimes sappy but so was "The Hangover" (1, 2 and 3, which, given the number of sequels, didn't impede that film's popularity).

"Girls Trip" succeeds as a comedy, but it also succeeds in casting four very talented, powerful women as the leads. It doesn't shy away from allowing these women to express themselves in whatever way their characters' personalities should. I am, however, somewhat concerned that the world will know about Nordstrom's remarkable return policy now.

With three female writers and one male, it's obvious this group just let loose and had fun writing the script.

Hall is simply stunning in her role. She's conflicted on many levels, similar to many women, and her portrayal of Ryan shows how we lose ourselves slowly, not realizing it until we have become someone else. She exudes confidence one moment, only to let down her guard the next and reveal her true self.

While Latifah and Pinkett Smith balance this group's personality, it is Haddish's performance as the foul-mouthed, exaggerated, wild friend Dina that steals the show. Her ability to spew fast-paced descriptions in any situation will leave you laughing.

Race certainly is an aspect of the film. The women are attending the Essence Festival — hosted by a magazine aimed primarily at black women. This provides a few humorous situations, such as the white agent Elizabeth (Kate Walsh) attempting to use what she feels are appropriate colloquialisms to be a part of the group. Addressing these boundaries in such an open way is refreshing, and it never takes away from the focus: that as women there is no bond like friendship.

"Girls Trip" is a new spin on raunchy girlfriend movies, filled with gut-bustingly funny situations. While predictable, the film makes up for it in all the right ways — this comedy rivals any of its "bromance" predecessors.

3 1/2 out of 4 stars.

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