Category Archives: Show Time

Vol. 10, No. 3 – Nov 8 – Nov 21, 2017 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

The Lark brings history to Elite

Rounding out the Elite Theatre’s 2017 season is the acclaimed “The Lark”, chronicling the trial, condemnation and ultimate end of Joan D’Arc. Written by Jean Anouilh then translated from French and adapted by Lillian Hellman, the offering first hit the stage in the early 1950’s starring Julie Harris and Boris Karloff in the leading roles.

For those unfamiliar with the historical figure, Joan was a teen peasant girl who lived in France in Medieval times. She heard voices and firmly believed that God was speaking directly to her. He was commanding her to lead a band of soldiers to help win the war in France.

After convincing the Dauphin Charles to give her an army Joan broke all conventions to move forward. Despite leading the troupe to victory, her methods were questioned and she was ultimately tried for witchcraft. She was sentenced and burned at the stake at the age of 19. Considerable controversy followed questioning the outcome. Though debate still exists, she is now considered one of history’s greatest saints, and an enduring symbol of French unity and nationalism.

Director Alexander Schottky has assembled a cast bursting with talent, both seasoned and budding. His staging is equally mixed, utilizing both period and modern dress as well as a ubiquitous set of moveable cubes used to form suggestions of scenes. The mix works very well and one quickly assimilates all the visuals into a cohesive whole. The ending leaves room for contemplation.

Brittany Danyel takes on the challenging role of the Maid of Orléans and delivers a solid characterization full of nuance. She is compelling to watch as she meets challenges and challengers head on.

The role of key player The Earl of Warwick is portrayed by theater veteran Howard Leader. The Earl becomes a narrator/director of sorts, leading the players to continue the story. He presents with a strong, commanding and confident demeanor.

Jake Mailey conquers the role of the complicated Cauchon with poise and ease. Steven Silvers delivers a consistently interesting and complex Dauphin Charles. Notable performances are also given by Hayley Silvers as the Little Queen, Stephanie Rice as Yolande, Cecily Hendricks as the mistress Agnes, Dan Tullis as The Promoter, Ken Jones as La Hire, Ted Elrick as the Archbishop, and Bill Waxman as The Inquisitor.

All roles, even the very small ones, are played well within their limited scope. Several of the roles are double cast to accommodate actors’ schedules so check the cast photos the night you attend.

The one aspect that was confusing, to me, was the choice of intermission music. Modern pop tunes were used which I was unable to connect to the action. In my opinion, they took away from the mood of the play rather than enhanced it. A minor point perhaps, but noticeable.

The night I attended the cast outnumbered the audience, which was a shame. This is a play worthy of higher audience participation. Here is hoping the attendance picks up as the run continues.

The Lark runs through November 20. Friday & Saturday eves 8 PM, Sunday matinees 2 p.m.
General admission $20. Seniors/Students/Military $17. Reservations are encouraged.
(805) 483-5118

Elite Theatre Company,
2731 Victoria Avenue, Fisherman’s Wharf,
Channel Islands Harbor
2731 S. Victoria Ave


Vol. 10, No. 3 – Nov 8 – Nov 21, 2017 – Movie Review

Happy Death Day Review:
2 Palm Trees out of 4

by Manuel Reynoso

Happy Death Day is a 2017 American slasher film directed by Christopher B. Landon, written by Scott Lobdell and starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, and Ruby Modine.

When Theresa “Tree” Gelbman’s birthday ends with her murdered by the hands of a baby faced killer, she finds that she is forced to relive the day over and over again. She is forced to relive the trauma each day till she discovers who her killer really is.

Around October to November, there is always this lull in the movie industry. Hollywood seems to save all its hot garbage for this time of the year, so I’ve learned to not really expect much. Sure a couple films will surprise me, but I don’t hold my breath. So leading up to its release, I thought Happy Death Day would comfortably fit in with the rest of the soon-to-be bargain bin tier movies that find its way on screen this season. So, consider me surprised when I can genuinely say that Happy Death Day was not terrible.

Happy Death Day was actually a pretty fun watch. Things can get a little cliche at times, but that’s okay. I never got the impression that Happy Death Day took itself too seriously. Characters are written to come off like they are in some dumb teen movie, but it does feels by design. In a way, it helps to keep the viewer’s suspension of disbelief going. Actions are questionable, but it helps to write off the characters as just dumb college kids instead of outright blaming the film for poor writing.

There’s isn’t much to compliment Happy Death Day about in terms of its production. The acting ranges from cringey to serviceable at best. Camera work does shine on occasion, but mostly plays it pretty safe. Except, the film does have a few scenes with some surprising spectacles. Otherwise, the film doesn’t do much to stand out production-wise.

Now, Happy Death Day’s biggest issue is that it finds itself shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Groundhog Day and All You Need is Kill. The looping day gimmick has been done a few times before and done very well. I was skeptical as to how it will differentiate itself from previous iterations but was sure that it would find some unique twist to it. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that it follows very closely to the beats and structure of Groundhog Day. Aside from the menacing, baby-faced killer hunting our hero down, the protagonist’s character develops identical to Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day.

Typically I don’t like to be so overt in comparing two films together, but I find Happy Death Day plays very safe with what would otherwise could have been an interesting take on the time loop story. While playing it safe isn’t normally a big problem, the issue here is is that the film is entirely too predictable. If from just watching the first 15 minutes of the film, I can conclude exactly how the story will play out. That’s no bueno. Aside from that though, if you are in desperate need to visit the theater, and want something light and fun. Happy Death Day can be a good time, just don’t think too hard about what’s going on. Rated R 1h36min

Vol. 10, No. 2 – Oct 25 – Nov 7, 2017 – Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049
4 Palm Trees out of 4

by Manuel Reynoso

Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 neo-noir sci-fi drama directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green. A sequel to the 1982 film Blade Runner, the film stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford and follows K as he learns of a replicant that has given birth, and attempts to find more answers.

As I’ve reviewed more and more films, I’ve grown to be far more conservative with my rating system. A film has to really wow me like no other if I’m going to give it a 4/4. I’m not just expecting excellence in its production, but it has to tell a story that pulls me in and keeps me engaged from start to finish

Now you see, Blade Runner 2049 pulled me in. I mean really pulled me in and somehow managed to hold on tight for a remarkable 2 hours and 45 minutes. Even more amazing to me, is that the vast majority of the film revolves around superbly written dialogue, with little reliance on action. The action is great, don’t get me wrong, but the dialogue is just so dense with world building, character development, and conflict. Every character has their own motivations, goals, and personality that while may clash, come together to create this living breathing world. While this is usually enough for me to hold a film in high regard, blade runner also has this neo-noir aesthetic that is gorgeously designed.

When a film finds its aesthetic and knows precisely how to build on it, that’s when you go from having a setting, to a whole world. With a ridiculous budget of at least $150 million, I haven’t seen a world this painstakingly crafted outside the likes of Star Wars and other mega budget films. But blade runner has this dark, almost dystopian edge to it that just really appeals to me without it veering off to ludicrous levels of angst and despair.

While the set design and production value of the film laid the groundwork for such a strong aesthetic. Roger deakin’s cinematography work and Hans Zimmer’s music is what places the final touches on the films stellar production. Dealing wasn’t shy to play with angles and light in unconventional ways. Zimmer’s score is also phenomenal and worth a listen independently of the movie.

However, as per usual, dialogue is what’s king to me, and the screenplay by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green is nothing short of phenomenal. The close personal relationship between K and Joi or the contention between K and others was mesmerizing. While some may find the film too long, I found every minute as tantalizing as the last. On top of the great dialogue, the acting was what carried it to the heights it achieved. Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford in particular were the strongest performances of the film, but I also feel the need to emphasis how surprised I was by the range Bautista showed in the film.

Two hours and forty minutes is a definite commitment to make, but a film of this caliber really deserves the attention. Seeing it in theaters really feels like the only option when Blade Runner 2049 boasts such a strong aesthetic and excellent sound design. Maybe neo-noir crime dramas just do something for me in particular, but I loved this film, and recommend all who can make it go watch it as well. Rated R 2h 43M

Vol. 10, No. 2 – Oct 25 – Nov 7, 2017 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine
Marriage musical on stage in Camarillo

Camarillo Skyway Playhouse is performing the award-winning musical, I Do! I Do!” through November 12. The play is based on the The Fourposter by Jan de Hartog. With book and lyrics are by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, the musical chronicles a span of 50 years of married life for Michael and Agnes Snow.
Almost an operetta, the play swiftly moves from the couple’s wedding in 1895 to a more comfortable 1945, providing insights into their struggles and their life’s highlights along the way. Many will identify with the portrayals familiar to couples of communication challenges, disloyalties and the search for identity both as individuals and as a twosome. Emotions run the gamut as the years pass, the children are born, grow up and eventually leave the nest.

Adam Womack and Lauren Rachel wear the Snow’s lives as though made for them. Both are accomplished singers and move easily through the time span. The two have chemistry together. Womack is thoroughly engaging, even when he, as Michael Snow, is being a pompous ass.

Their singing compliments each other consistently as they accent their story with a steady stream of songs. Many will recognize “My cup runneth over with love” and “When the kids get married”. Each makes the most of their occasions to solo. Womack is exuberant in “I love my wife” and does a little soft shoe later. Rachel pulls out the stops in “Flaming Agnes” and “What is a woman”. Each sing clearly and enunciates well so the lyrics can be understood. This is very much appreciated as it adds to the enjoyment considerably. Both actors are clearly relishing their roles and thus so does the audience.

Clever costuming and small adjustments to the décor of the one set bedroom brought the audience along on the Snow’s journey. Despite several lengthy pauses for scenery or costume changes, the play moves along swiftly. One glaring inconsistency however is the presence of Samsonite luggage in the opening sequence, occurring some fifteen years before the Samsonite company began. A small point perhaps, but noticeable.

There are commonalities between this production and the previous one of The Last Five Years” which piqued my interest. Both are performed by only two actors. Both feature a plethora of songs which pull the story along, many of them sounding pretty much the same in range and tone. Both plays chronicle years of married life although the presentation is treated differently and cover a different time span, one short and one lengthy. In both productions, the husband is a writer. While there are positive attributes to both productions, a selection with less in common might have been a stronger choice.

I Do! I Do! replaces the scheduled production of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” so perhaps costs were a consideration. In any case, the change provided Womack and Rachel an opportunity to show their talents. Dean Johnson directs this solid production featuring two fine actors.

I Do!, I Do! runs Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 2 p.m. through November 12
Camarillo Skyway Playhouse
330 Skyway Drive, Camarillo
Camarillo Airport
(805) 388-5716 or
Adults $20, Students, seniors and military, $15, Under 12, $10

Vol. 10, No.1 – Oct 11 – Oct 24, 2017 – Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Review 1.5 Palms out of 4

by Manuel Reynoso

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a 2017 action film produced and directed by Matthew Vaughn and written by Vaughn and Jane Goldman. Sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), based on the comic book series Kingsman, created by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar. Starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Edward Holcroft, Sophie Cookson, and Hanna Alström reprising their roles from the first film, with Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Elton John, Channing Tatum, and Jeff Bridges joining the cast

When the Kingsmen are successfully attacked from all sides, the remaining Kingsmen must team up with the American based Statesman organization to tackle a new world threat.

I love a good action movie from time to time, but I am definitely picky. I like ’em lean, I like ‘em mean, and I like ‘em real clean. Now when I say lean, I don’t necessarily mean short. I just don’t want the film bogged down by a superfluous amount of plot. Give me the backstory, create a strong setting, hit the inciting event in just over 10 minutes, and then run wild. Once we’re running, I want it to be mean. PG-13 action flicks just don’t have the same kick as a gruesome rated R slugfest. Lastly, I want to see some clean visuals and tight fight choreography.

Now Kingsman: the Golden Circle is certainly mean. It has great, over-the-top action scenes that absolutely made me giddy. The fight choreography itself is also pretty clean, and avoids overuse of quick cuts and shaky cam ridden scenes. However, It’s unfortunately rather difficult to recommend Kingsman: the Golden Circle when the film is just way to painstakingly long.

It’s an absolute slog to get through the non-action scenes. The few tasty morsels are hidden in a stew of boring exposition and needless backstory. Kingsman: the Golden Circle has no excuse being 2 hours and 20 minutes. It feels completely padded and just brings down the overall quality of the film. 40 minutes could be trimmed from the film and the film would be substantially better. Especially that awful, awful music festival scene. Axe that, with a literal axe, please.

Sound mixing as well was a bit hit and miss in my opinion. Some scenes are obnoxiously loud with, at least according to my taste, ill-fitting music leading the scene. Quite a shame considering the first theatrical trailer was absolutely amazing. Hearing Frank Sinatra’s My Way lead me to believe they’d keep up with this style, but was disappointed by the soundtrack they chose.

The acting on the other hand is great. The new Statesman characters juxtapose really well with the Kingsman, but with so many new characters, the film finds it very difficult to give each character ample screen time to really develop them into something great. The biggest travesty it’s how much of Channing Tatum’s character is just robbed of screen time. Pacing yet again is to blame with the lack of sufficient character development.

Now I really enjoyed about 45 minutes worth of the film. Which wouldn’t be a problem if there was another hour and a half tacked right on to it. An action movie with heroes based on British and American caricatures is such a strong gimmick. It’s goofy and fun but unless the potential sequel can be more focused, I don’t see the Kingsman series being worth any sort of special praise. Rated R 2h 21m

Vol. 10, No. 26 – Sept 27 – Oct 10, 2017 – A View from House Seats

Premiere examines complexity of the mind

by Shirley Lorraine

Fact and fiction are interwoven as The Rubicon Theatre Company presents the West Coast Premiere of Incognito by Nick Payne, a fascinating look at how humans think, act and rationalize actions. While the opportunity to stage the premiere bumped the scheduled offering of Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me out of the line-up, it presents a challenging and thought-provoking piece. This proves true for both the actors and the audience.

Rubicon regular Joseph Fuqua, Betsy Zajko, Mark Jacobson and Claire Adams skillfully embody 21 characters as they fashion three stories, two based in fact, to show how complex the human brain can be. Presented on a stage bare save for four chairs, the actors glide from role to role effortlessly. The heightened pace challenges the audience to keep up with the rapid changes in both characters and story lines.

At the base of the piece is a telling of Thomas Stoltz Harvey (Joseph Fuqua), a pathologist who autopsied and then stole Albert Einstein’s brain. His obsession with the possibility of tapping the source of Einstein’s genius was never fully realized, creating a life path riddled with confusion and self-doubt which also slowly shreds the fabric of his marriage to Eloise (Betsy Zajko).

Woven into this is a glimpse into the tortured mind of Henry Maison (Mark Jacobson) whose brain is compromised severely after lobotomy surgery to attempt to cure his epilepsy. He suffers extremely short-term memory loss resulting in repetitive bolts of awareness that quickly dwindle to nothing. His wife (Claire Adams) tries in vain to help him regain some of his memory by encouraging him to play the piano. He has forgotten he knew how to play.

A third story introduces us to Martha Murphy (Betsy Zajko), a British clinical neuropsychopathologist who struggles to find her place in the big picture that is humanity. She presents with conflicts over her identity and her purpose in life. Of the three, her story is the least clear in intent. To me, anyway.

The four actors handle the frequent character switches incredibly well, giving each distinct and identifiable differences. For me, however, the story lines moved so quickly I had trouble keeping up with the myriad ideas and questions being posed in each. The amount of insight required was overwhelming. Fortunately, the program outlines the premise which makes the action a bit easier to follow.

An extremely nice touch to the otherwise bare set is a row of wooden sticks fashioned into mobiles hanging from the ceiling reminiscent of DNA helixes, emphasizing, at least subliminally, how our DNA shapes our futures. To add to the meaning of the second story, they were made from a dismantled non-functioning piano, illustrating that the music of our lives continues to play regardless of our choices.

Incognito is well suited to those who embrace mental challenges.

Incognito plays Wednesdays to Sundays through October 1 at the Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St. (corner of Main and Laurel Streets). Matinees: 2 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Evening performances at 8 p.m., except 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, which features a post-show talk back with the cast. Tickets: $30-$55. The box office is open 7 days a week. There is 24-hour ticketing and seat selection online at 667-2900.

Vol. 10, No. 26 – Sept 27 – Oct 10, 2017 – Movie Review

2 palm trees out of 4

by Manuel Reynoso

IT (2017) is an American supernatural horror film directed by Andy Muschietti, based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Stephen King. 7 Young children are terrorized by Pennywise, a being who has haunted the town of Derry for centuries. They come together to fight Pennywise off, and fight their own demons along the way.

I’m bad at watching scary movies. I mean BAAAD, like hands covering my eyes every time the music gets scary, bad. My cop out has always been that I don’t like the horror genre, but truthfully I’m just a wuss. So coming from a horror novice such as myself, I thought the movie was… fine. While the cast was great, and the visual effects were strong; the visuals weren’t backed up by strong cinematography, and the story gets a tad repetitive at points. It certainly not an awful movie by any means, and horror fanatics may find it more to their tastes.

The single best thing of this movie, is the way the cast just play off each other every minute. Jack Dylan Grazer, Finn Wolfhard, and Sophia Lillis in particular really carry the film with their performances. Jumping from humor to horror felt organic for the cast and was just a joy to see them perform on screen. Unfortunately Bill Skarsgård’s performance as Pennywise felt uninspired. It was serviceable but didn’t have any unique edge for it to stand out.

But while Pennywise didn’t stand out due to Skarsgard’s performance, his visual design was great, along with many of the practical effects used throughout the film. My main gripe however is that the camera work felt pretty safe, there wasn’t anything to compliment the striking imagery. So at times, a few of the spooks felt like a silly juxtaposition to the world around them, and it was difficult to figure out if it was intentional or not.

Now what I felt was the biggest narrative issue was the film’s repetitive nature. It doesn’t necessarily get old, but the second act seems to drag on a little longer than it should have. I felt myself unable to get very scared when each scare follows a very clear structure, and when someone as sensitive as me finds scares getting boring, that’s when you have a problem. Now you can make the argument that the “scares” weren’t structured to be frightening to the audience, but instead to move the plot forward. However, even following this logic, the problem with these scenes becoming repetitive still stands.

Now the biggest problem facing IT (2017) for me was the portrayal of Beverly in the film. Sophia Lilis’s isn’t at fault, instead the character of Beverly is inherently weak as a character. She’s unfortunately another casualty of Hollywood’s love of oversexualizing characters who have no business being sexualized. Along with her oversexulization, her fears felt unfocused and lead to pivotal scenes of the film feeling almost random. It’s a shame that IT didn’t feel as strong as it should have been. I enjoyed the film, but otherwise felt it was forgettable. Rated R 2h 15m

Vol. 10, No. 25 – Sept 13 – Sept 26, 2017 – Movie Review

Three movies to see before the age of 10

By Manuel Reynoso

Movies, as with all art mediums, have the power to change someone’s outlook on life, especially during our more formative years. Themes of love, family and coming of age serve to lay down a path of discovery for who we are as a person, and these three films are perfect for a youth just now beginning to experience this in their daily life.

  1. Stand by Me (1986)

When four young boys go on a hike to find the dead body of a missing boy, what they find is an adventure of self-discovery. Stand by Me, which is unequivocally my favorite film adaptation of a Stephen King work, is an excellent example of a true coming-of-age drama. The sense of childhood adventure that is soon lost with adulthood is captured immaculately in this film. But most importantly, Stand by Me really teaches how the events in our life shape us, and makes us grow as a person. It’s powerful seeing how a hike to fulfil a macabre curiosity leads to such personal growth for these four young boys, and there’s a lot on growing up to be gleaned for a younger audience. However, use your best judgement for when you believe an adolescent is ready for this film.

2. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Truthfully, you can place nearly any Studio Ghibli movie in this slot and my point stands, but this is my list, so I’m putting my single favorite film of all time on it. My Neighbor Totoro is an animated film that tells the story of two young girls and their father, and the adventures they had with the woodland spirits of rural Japan. Despite the many times I’ve seen My Neighbor Totoro, I’ve always walked away with some new insight in life. From learning to appreciate family and nature when I first watched it in my youth, every subsequent viewing just always seemed to have more lessons for me to take in. Learning the importance of allowing children to express their imagination and how to cope with something as traumatic as a sick mother, My Neighbor Totoro is not only for the children among us but for the child within us. It’s a masterpiece, and a film for children of all ages. Even those of us who refuse to grow up.

3. Bicycle Thieves (1948)

An Italian, black and white film from the 40’s may be a little bit of a hard sell for younger audiences, but the message behind it is invaluable. The story of a poor father searching post-World War II Rome for his stolen bicycle is not as simple as it may seem. It’s a story of the fallibility of the very person we once thought perfect at some point in our lives. Seeing the adventures of a young boy and their father is equal parts heartwarming and tragic. Bicycle Thieves serves to bring to light how complicated right and wrong can sometimes be, and will serve to make a child more well-rounded in understanding the world around them.

Vol. 10, No. 25 – Sept 13 – Sept 26, 2017 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Steel Magnolias capture the South at Elite

Robert Harling’s comedy-drama, Steel Magnolias, is now on stage through October 1 at the Elite Theater in Channel Islands. The highly popular play, written by Harling in just ten days, reflects how women bond through many of life’s challenges, providing support, guidance and a touch of sarcasm as their friendships bloom. Taking place in a small town in Louisiana, the setting could be literally anywhere. The Southern touch adds considerably however to the humor and the depth of the characters.

The general story is a personal one for the author, built around the character Shelby, who was modeled after his sister, Susan. Shelby dies of complications from diabetes, as did Susan. It provided catharsis for the author and a treat for audiences everywhere.

The action happens in around 1980 at Truvy’s Hair Salon in a small town where a group of regulars gather on Saturday mornings for styling, gossip and laughter.

The ensemble is solid throughout and meld together nicely. Kim Prendergast plays salon owner Truvy Jones. She is joined by the former town mayors’ widow Clairee Belcher (Peggy Steketee), young bride-to-be Shelby (Olivia Heulitt), who loves everything pink, Shelby’s harried but caring mother M’Lynn (Christine Burke) and curmudgeon-like Ouiser (pronounced Weezer) portrayed by Angela DeCicco. On this morning, Truvy has just hired Annelle (Catie Sayeg) a young, possibly married, newcomer to town as her insecure apprentice.

The audience is introduced to each of the delightful ladies as they enter and banter before their respective appointments. It is Shelby’s wedding day, so of course her hair must be done first. Truvy expertly curls and styles her hair while Annelle washes M’Lynn’s. The others have coffee, chide each other in friendly fashion and gossip just a little as each gets their Saturday “do’s” done.

All the characters are engaging, each one’s personality blossoming more fully as we get to know them. We learn a bit about their backgrounds along the way. We get caught up as one of the insiders in their petty yet friendly, squabbles and their obvious love, concern and encouragement for each other. When one needs support, all the rest pitch in.

The six ladies make a tight ensemble and each is given the spotlight here and there. The most tightly wound character is mom M’Lynn, who understandably unravels towards the end and is comforted by the others.

Bathed in lavender, the salon is comfortable and inviting. The requisite magazines are on the coffee table, hair dryers are at the ready and a plethora of warmth pervades the scenes. The setting invites the audience to become part of the Saturday clique. Anyone who has ever been to a hair salon will enjoy the posters featuring big hair of the 80’s.

At one point when the salon telephone rings, Ouiser states “it’s probably my mind trying to locate my body”. How many times have we all felt like that? The script offers frequent insights familiar to many, adding to the comfortable intimate ambiance. Go to The Salon and enjoy.

Steel Magnolias runs through October 1. Friday & Saturday eves 8 PM, Sunday matinees 2 p.m.

General admission $20. Seniors/Students/Military $17. Reservations are encouraged.

Elite Theatre Company, 2731 Victoria Avenue, Fisherman’s Wharf, Channel Islands Harbor 483-5118

Vol. 10, No. 24 – Aug 30 – Sept 12, 2017 – Movie Review

Girls Trip Review
2.5 Palm Trees out of 4

by Manuel Reynoso

Girls Trip is a 2017 comedy film directed by Malcolm D. Lee and written by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver, from a story by Erica Rivinoja and the screenwriters. The film stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith.

After years apart, best friends Ryan, Sasha, Lisa, and Dina head to the essence festival and New Orleans. What started as a way to bring the Flossy Posse back together, the trip leads to a wild adventure beyond what they could have imagined.

Girls Trip, I felt, offers more than what the previews promised me. It’s a whole lot funnier, a whole lot nastier, and a lot more sentimental that I would have thought. Sure, it rehashes plenty of tired tropes, and doesn’t really add anything new or daring in regards to its comedy. However, to the films credit, it doubles down on every raunchy, dirty joke that it makes. Screenwriter’s Kenya Barris and Tracy Olive go all in on their jokes, which either crash and burn spectacularly, or reach great heights. Girls Trip is definitely funny, and features a lot of gross out humor. So viewers with a weak disposition will probably want to skip out of this one.

My main gripe of girl’s trip is its strict following of the same tired Hollywood story beats that all films of this type follow. If you frequently watch movies, and have a good enough instincts, Girls Trip can be entirely too safe and predictable. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t a huge problem but also means that you are not missing much if you don’t watch this film.

Largely, most of this film’s success can be attributed to the cast’s stellar performances. The leading ladies all do a fabulous job bringing each of their respective characters to life on screen. Tiffany Haddish in particular is what steals the show. Haddish’s wild performance starts at a 9 and just goes up from there. While Girls Trip might arguably be forgettable as the year goes on, Haddish’s performance will be the last thing I forget.

Girls Trip accomplished exactly what I needed it to in order to have a good time. It was funny, it was raunchy, and was competently produced. If you find yourself needed a comedy fix at the movies, then Girls Trip can be exactly what you needed. However, outside of that I’m not very inclined to recommend the film. It’s not exactly groundbreaking or all too deep. But sometimes, all we need is a good laugh. Rated R 2h 2m