"Girls Trip" isn't without some problems. The story is predictable and formulaic, and, at a little more than two hours, the movie starts to wear out its welcome in the final act.

Still, this comedy works because when the laughs hit, they really hit.

Anchored by four very charming lead performances from Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish, "Girls Trip" finds a way to charm thanks to plenty of raunch and filth, but also a little heart.

The four leads play college friends known as the Flossy Posse who have drifted apart but reunite in New Orleans when Ryan (Hall), a successful self-help guru who has formed a seemingly strong partnership with her husband, Stewart (Mike Colter), is named the keynote speaker at the Essence Festival.

The reunion allows the quartet to revisit some of their wilder days, but also come to terms with problems in their own lives – including Ryan's marital issues with a cheating Stewart.

"Girls Trip" was directed by Malcom D. Lee, who also directed the two "Best Man" films and last year's "Barbershop: The Next Cut." The director knows how to get the best out of his ensemble and he does it here in "Girls Trip." Hall, Smith and Queen Latifah all fit their roles quite well, adding depth to characters that on the surface seem rather simplistic and familiar. But all prove to have a little more going on than first meets the eye.

The real find is Haddish, who had a small role in last year's "Keanu." This is a star-making turn for Haddish, whose Dina is a brash, no-filter comic delight. Haddish attacks this character with a lot of bravura and delivers one of the funniest performances of the year.

Her character is directly responsible for two of the three set comic pieces in "Girls Trip" that are laugh-out-loud funny. Those are the moments that make this film succeed – much more than recent comedies such as "Rough Night," "The House" and "Baywatch."

Ultimately, this is a film in which the cast has so much fun that the audience can't help but have fun as well.


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