Eric André, Lil Rel Howery, and Tiffany Haddish are three of the funniest people working in Hollywood right now. Putting the three of them in the same movie seems like a no-brainer. It’s unfortunate that Bad Trip is less of a movie and more of a series of sketches compiled together for 90 minutes.
Not Much To it
The plot – that word used loosely here – involves best friends Chris (André) and Bud (Howery) traveling across country together. Hot on their tracks is Bud’s sister, Trina (Haddish), whose car they stole to make the trek.
Along the way, the trio gets into hijinks and ridiculous situations, in which real people fall victim to their pranks. Think of it like Sacha Baron Cohen’s bread & butter, where the main characters are fictional but the situations they find themselves in are very public and witnessed by unknowing passersby who tend to get involved.
As Real as Can Be
When you watch a hidden camera type of movie – Borat, Bruno, Bad Grandpa, etc. – you can expect two things. 1. They will be good for at least some laughs and 2. You will witness some of the meanest and some of the most generous strangers in your life. I don’t know what it is. More so than just about any actual documentary, you really get to see people in their natural state.
You see a full range of emotions from the people who fall victim to these pranks. They are annoyed, they are in shock, they are angry, and sometimes they do whatever they can to help these people out. Even if it means putting their safety or comfortability on the line. It’s really amazing.
One of the more fascinating interactions in the film is when Trina escapes from prison. She does so by hiding in a prison bus as it leaves the area. She makes a run for it as soon as she can. When she does, she encounters a stranger and tells the stranger to be her lookout. As soon as she leaves, a guard comes by asking where she went. The man, clearly conflicted, sort of helps the guard by pointing him in the opposite direction. Not long after, Trina comes back, which raises the anxiety in the man and he tells her to leave.
He wants to do the right thing but he is clearly unsure of what that is. It’s a short part of the movie but it is a great representation of how interesting these premises can actually be. He doesn’t know he is being filmed – We get to see real emotions, as we watch him work through his conflict in real time.
Just Not Enough There
Moments like these are few and far between. It’s not how most of the film goes but that’s okay. In the end, that’s not what the movie is going for. It’s a movie built to go from prank to prank, strung together by the thinnest of plots. The goal is to make the audience laugh and it achieves its goal some of the time.
When it doesn’t, though, Bad Trip often results in eye rolling moments. Some that are a result of unfunny scenarios. Some are a result of the actual script, which is very unfunny. And some of them are a result of moments so over the top that you can almost imagine the filmmakers giggling as they push the proverbial envelope.
Admittedly, some of those moments do work. One moment involving a Chinese finger trap had me laughing harder than any moment so far this year. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie doesn’t live up to that moment. Additionally, the laughs that do come are largely due to the surprise factor. I’m not so sure how much they’d hold up in a rewatch.
Should You Take the Trip?
Then again, Bad Trip wasn’t meant to become a comedy classic. I fully believe that the three main stars were hoping to make a good movie. With such a thin premise, though, it always seemed designed for some cheap laughs and an easy watch. There is a time and place for such a movie. If you are living in that time or place, Bad Trip is waiting for you on Netflix.