Girls Trip focuses on four women, Ryan (Reginah Hall), Sasha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Dina (Tiffany Hadish), friends since childhood who have drifted apart over the years. Ryan is a self-help superstar, working with her husband Stewart (Mike Colter) to help people figure out how to have it all. Sasha is a gossip blogger who reveals celebrity’s dirty laundry on her failing website. Lisa is a nurse and single mother, while Dina works in an office. Several years after their last adventure Ryan is offered a chance to be the keynote speaker at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, and she sees an opportunity to get the gang back together for a wild and fun weekend. But once they arrive in New Orleans it comes out that Ryan’s seemingly perfect husband has been cheating on her. This sets off a chaotic series of events which include renting a shady hotel room, a dance off, a large bottle of absinthe, and the women rediscovering their friendship.

From the first moments, Girls Trip makes it clear that this is a no-holds-barred comedy by shedding the conventions of traditional “women’s stories” without a thought. The dramatic storyline mostly happens in the background while the women are partying and doing their best to get into trouble. The trailer more than hints at how raunchy Girls Trip is, but by the end it reaches a level of nasty-yet-funny that few movies can pull off successfully. Thankfully the actresses are up to the task and their performances are what make it sustainable.

The four women at the center of the movie have amazing chemistry, each adding her own brand of humor to the mix. Reginah Hall and Queen Latifah’s characters have a contentious past, and they do a great job at communicating how complicated their relationship has become over the years. As the straight-laced one (at least initially), Jada Pinkett Smith is hilarious, and watching her transform from an uptight single mom into a party girl was a delight. Tiffany Hadish has a smaller role in the story, but she manages to rise above them all with her physical comedy and impeccable delivery.  That she has some of the best dialogue and jokes doesn’t hurt, but the energy she brings to the role is something that only she could provide.

On the whole Girls Trip is somewhat uneven; the jokes fly thick and fast but the plot is predictable, and the last fifteen minutes drop most of the comic sensibilities to tie up loose ends. For some, the crass humor will be too much, but for those who can enjoy it the film has so much to offer. The characters are flawed human beings and yet they are still worthy of love and devotion. It doesn’t shy away from showing the beautiful and difficult reality of women’s friendships and how deep those bonds can run. Girls Trip never feels like it is judging its characters, even at their most outlandish. Instead it repeatedly sends a message that being yourself and living your truth are the way to find happiness.