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Movie Review

In ‘Girls Trip,’ black girl magic reigns supreme

From left: Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, and Regina Hall star in “Girls Trip.”
From left: Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, and Regina Hall star in “Girls Trip.”(Michele K Short/Universal Studios)

Every woman knows that a tight-knit group of girlfriends is priceless. Who else is going to hold your hair back when you have one drink too many? Who else will listen to you complain for hours about that guy who just won’t text you back? Who else, in the case of the raunchy comedy “Girls Trip,” will urinate on Bourbon Street drunks in solidarity?

Coarse comedies starring women are not novel. Take Judd Apatow’s “Trainwreck” (2015}, for example, in which comedian Amy Schumer played a self-medicating, sexually liberated woman confronted with commitment issues. Before that, Paul Feig’s “Bridesmaids” (2011) was called the female equivalent of “The Hangover.” And more recently we’ve seen the format spin out to mixed results in “Bad Moms” and “Rough Night.”

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So, when the trailer for “Girls Trip” was released in January, it was cause for concern in some quarters: Would a comedy about black women behaving badly perpetuate harmful stereotypes? Fortunately, the answer is (mostly) no.

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (“The Best Man,” “Barbershop: The Next Cut”), this latest girlfriends gone wild film centers on Ryan (Regina Hall), a poised, successful author who has written a book titled “You Can Have It All” and is happily/lucratively married to an ex-NFL player (Mike Colter). When she’s invited to speak at a New Orleans music festival celebrating black women, she decides to bring her college pals with her. There’s Sasha (Queen Latifah), a journalist with a celebrity gossip website; Dina (Tiffany Haddish), a fiercely loyal wild child; and Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), a divorced single mother. Together, they make up the legendary Flossy Posse.

Chaos predictably ensues. Absinthe is involved at one point. So are lamps and grapefruits. There is a dance-off and a catfight (speaking of stereotypes). There is debauchery and black girl magic all around, and the four women truly seem like best friends.

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But not everything is fun and frivolity. Ryan’s husband is cheating on her with an Instagram model. Sasha is broke. There’s an unresolved beef between the girlfriends, along with a surprising number of heartwarming moments.

There’s also one scene that skillfully captures black feminism. Before appearing at the festival, Ryan has a gentle conversation with her white agent, Liz (Kate Walsh), about using colloquialisms that she “probably looked up on UrbanDictionary.com.” Liz completely misses the point, of course, but the inclusion of a moment that many black women experience repeatedly feels nothing short of revolutionary.

“Girls Trip” is a hilarious reminder that we all need a Flossy Posse to make us laugh until our sides ache and give it to us straight when no one else will. Black girl magic, indeed.

★★★

GIRLS TRIP

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee. Written by Kenya Barris, Karen McCullah, Erica Rivinoja, and Tracy Oliver. Starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mike Colter. At Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs. 122 minutes. R (sexual content, nudity, language).


Bethany Ao can be reached at bethany.ao@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethanyao.