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Girls Trip

Comedies featuring a group of friends travelling to a destination aren’t new. Dozens of recent examples like ‘Bridesmaids’ and the ‘Hangover’ movies have appealed to audiences. Whilst a few have indulged in gross-out toilet humour for laughs, others have tried to conjure more sophisticated ways in raising mirth. ‘Girls Trip’ is halfway between with a focus on the emotional bonds that friends share. It is graced with an energetic cast who remember to have fun even when their characters behave very badly.

Ryan (Regina Hall), Sasha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Dina (Tiffany Haddish) are lifelong friends. Wanting to take a weekend vacation to a music festival in New Orleans, they hit the road ready for adventure. Ladies, who have had mixed fortunes in their personal lives, use the time away to reflect on where they’ve been. With wild times and tested friendships ahead, the four-some discover more about each other and the unbreakable union they share.

‘Girl Trip’ shows how far movie comedies have come. In the 50’s the humour relied on style and wit with the decades since gradually descending into the gutter for laughs. Those who find bodily function jokes hilarious will get that here. But beneath the undignified carry-on, ‘Girls Trip’ has interesting things to say about how time changes people and the notion of friendship. There are good messages amidst the smut which makes it regrettable that the screenplay felt it needed to enter the realms of unspeakable vulgarity.

For its many faults, ‘Girls Trip’ is enlivened by the leads’ chemistry. You feel they have been genuine friends for years with the performers knowing how to successfully deliver a comedic retort. The antics they get up to feel familiar and it doesn’t break new ground. The moments away from the grotesque sewer-like jokes are its best with fully formed characters trying to cope with life. New Orleans looks amazing and becomes an exotic bystander to the ladies’ unending wickedness.

Hardly a classy affair, ‘Girls Trip’ moderately succeeds in being truly amusing. Fans of ‘end of pier’-style laugh-fests may enjoy it with its dramatic moments more bearable. You can’t fault the casts’ enthusiasm with these types of comedies still finding favour amongst easily pleased viewers.

Rating out of 10: 5

Baywatch

‘Everything old is new again’ is a term to which Hollywood subscribes. Nothing is ever discarded with old ideas re-heated for new generations. Television has provided an abundance of material for films to plunder. An unlikely candidate is the 90’s series ‘Baywatch’. Featuring beefed up dudes and scantily clad ladies, ‘Baywatch’ was a huge hit and gave actor David Hasslehoff another shot at stardom. It was also a creative abyss with the writing and acting low on the radar. Nevertheless it leaps from beach to screen in all its gaudy sun-kissed glory with its tacky surface complete.

The Baywatch squad is an elite team of lifeguards ready for action. Roaming the beach ensuring beach-goers’ safety is ensured, the squad’s leader Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) maintains a strict regime. His efforts quickly become undermined by new recruit Matt Brody (Zac Efron) whose free-wheeling attitude annoys Mitch. They don’t have long to argue when a body washes ashore. Discovering the deceased was part of an enormous drug trafficking ring, Mitch and his team aim to clean the beaches of this noxious form of human seaweed.

‘Baywatch’ continues the trend of re-imaging TV shows as comedies by ramping up the kitsch factor. It never takes itself seriously like the occasionally over-earnest TV series with crude gags on high rotation. The threadbare plot is there to facilitate the next slice of below the belt humour and witty by-play. To its credit the ‘Police Academy’-style screenplay ensures the performers embody their silly characters and gives them something to latch onto. Johnson, Efron and their co-stars throw themselves into the smut with a gusto that’s to be commended.

Seth Gordon directs with a light touch and times the gags well. Pacing is everything in comedies and there’s barely a moment to be bored. There are occasions that are just as appalling as the TV series although anyone expecting an Oscar-worthy movie is watching the wrong thing. ‘Baywatch’ is meant to be dumb, over the top fun and it mostly succeeds. The action sequences are exciting as it mirrors its television forebear well in that area.

Not quite a cinematic abomination, ‘Baywatch’ is dopey entertainment for those liking this type of movie. The cinematography captures the film’s comic-book feel well and the cast are clearly having a good time. Once is enough for this motley crew though as the thought of another sequel would be as bad as hearing original star David Hasslehoff warble another shonky tune.

Rating out of 10: 5