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Gross-Out Pranks and Good Samaritans Collide in Bad Trip

3/5 hot pink Crown Victorias.

Lil Rel Howery, Eric Andre

What is the appeal of a prank movie? Is it the outrageousness of the pranks themselves, which push the boundaries of sanity and good taste? Is it the horrified reactions of the audience? Or is it the authentic response of everyday people to absurd circumstances? In Bad Trip, we get to ponder those questions as we watch the hijinks of Eric Andre, Lil Rel Howery, and Tiffany Haddish, whose pranks are a combination of sheer inventiveness, gross-out gags, and utter absurdity.

Those familiar with Andre’s Adult Swim series The Eric Andre Show will have some idea of what to expect from Andre’s antics, and for everyone else, well, prepare to be alternately horrified and hysterical. In his new film Bad Trip, Andre weaves together a series of pranks with a thinly scripted plotline. Andre plays Chris, a goofy slacker whose world is rocked when he encounters his long-lost middle school crush Maria (Michaela Conlin). He then convinces his nebbish best friend Bud (Howery) to steal his sister Trina’s hot pink Crown Victoria for a road trip from Florida to New York to chase down his love. Trina (Haddish) promptly escapes from prison and chases down the duo, wreaking havoc across the country on her quest for revenge.

In a film filled with great performances, Haddish steals every scene she’s in. Watching her effortlessly improvise with unsuspecting strangers is a true delight, and Haddish’s high energy boosts the film when it starts to drag. You truly haven’t lived until you watch her rip the door off of a police car and drive away while flipping everyone off.

The film is a winking take on buddy comedies, road trip films, and romcom clichés, connected by a series of outrageous pranks that will have you screaming at your TV. Andre, Howery, and Haddish all commit fully to their performances with hilarious results. Do some of the pranks go too far? Undoubtedly, especially one that sees Andre sexually assaulted by a gorilla. There are a handful of pranks like this that push the envelope and had me worried about the prankees. There are also several pranks that had me worried about the safety of Andre and Howery, one of which ends with them being chased by a knife-wielding barber.

But while your gross-out mileage may vary, the film is filled with hilariously outrageous stunts and pranks that will make your jaw drop. At some moments, I laughed so hard I was crying. And when I wasn’t crying, I was screaming at my TV. Perhaps what’s most shocking are the genuinely empathetic responses from the people they encounter. Some are furious, but most of them are trying their best to help Andre and his cohorts out of increasingly bizarre situations.

From the sanitation worker who helps Haddish’s escaped convict hide from the authorities, to the man who tries to break up a fight between Howery and Andre, to the cleaners offering a group hug to a weeping actor, these deeply human moments ground the film in an absurd yet unshakeable optimism. Again and again, Andre and company are saved by the kindness of strangers. Who knew a film with so much fake vomit could deliver such an uplifting message?

(featured image: Dimitry Elyashkevich/NETFLIX)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.