In a world where watching prank videos on YouTube have become very overplayed, Bad Trip makes all of them look pathetic, because once it starts, you already know what movie you’re in for, and it’s more suited for those who can appreciate stupid humor to laugh your head off.
What’s the Story: Chris (Eric Andre) and his best friend Bud (Lil Rel Howery) decide to leave their small town in Florida and take a cross- country road trip to New York after Chris briefly reconnected with his high school crush, Maria (Michaela Conlin), all while being chased by Bud’s sister Trina (Tiffany Haddish), who escaped from prison and on the path of revenge after they stole her car.
Was I looking forward to Bad Trip? If you would’ve asked me two years ago, absolutely not. None of the trailers that came out before did their job at making me convinced this would work. Sometimes the hidden camera movies can work when talking about the Jackass series or Borat that are in the same vein, but it can feel played out by now. We’ve moved on from the Punk’d days when it’s pretty easy to know when something doesn’t seem right. And they meant it to be shown in theaters from Orion Pictures after being delayed twice, which its last March release put on hold because of the pandemic. The movie was even accidentally leaked to Amazon Prime Video almost a year ago, but was taken down quickly. Now, Netflix was able to take care of things to show this to the people who need it after a bad day or so. To my surprise, it’s enough to say Bad Trip is the first good comedy of 2021.
There’s an actual narrative that’s surrounding the pranks throughout, and it’s not the most original story since it’s all about Chris wanting to confess his feelings to the one girl he loved (haven’t we all) and happen to get him and his friend, who has to stand up to his sister and take more chances, into a bunch of ridiculous madness with these bystanders not knowing it’s all planned. Think of this as Dumb and Dumber, with pranks that can go every which way. This didn’t waste their time in getting into their business when it’s all just have-at-it kind of jokes and see what the reactions would be. The story isn’t exactly an element to pay attention to the most, and that’s what I think director Kitao Sakurai, who co-wrote with Andrew and Dan Curry, wanted to do without this becoming the hardest project to make.
The commitment that shows in the performances of its three leads, Eric Andre, Lil Rel Howery, and Tiffany Haddish, shows proof they can be hilarious and making everything in their surroundings awkward and hysterical at the same time. Even when the trailers came out, I questioned if anybody knew who the stars were amid these crazy situations, especially Haddish, who’s one of the more recognizable comedic stars today, but it’s one of those cases where you just have to move past it as the movie goes along. I haven’t watched a lot of Andre’s show on Adult Swim, but he usually makes me laugh in everything else he’s in, and watching him in this shows he should really be in more comedic leading roles. The chemistry he shares with Howery plays off well when you already know the latter is going to be the straight man to Andre’s fool.
Nearly every prank the movie pulls off had me laughing out loud occasionally where you couldn’t believe how they came up with them or how it would be accomplished to throw into the story in its planning. It got me in the first few minutes, but there are two scenes where I couldn’t believe with my eyes how Andre and Howery didn’t get in trouble or how gross it would get. Never every joke worked. There was even one moment where I honestly had to question if it was wrong for me to laugh or not. I will say Tiffany Haddish’s subplot about finding the duo on their journey to the locations they’ve been at wasn’t as funny whenever it cuts back to her, and I think the parts where she pulls the pranks didn’t land that much. But did I still have a good time watching this? Indeed, I did. A comedy like this would’ve been nice to see in theaters just so I can hear the reaction of the audience.
Final Thoughts: As someone who thought Bad Trip was going to be a complete disaster, this hidden camera comedy made me laugh consistently. It’s definitely won’t be everyone’s taste, that’s for sure, yet its stupidity delivers with its humor and chemistry from Eric Andre and Lil Rel Howery. It means nothing to be taken seriously or be an Award-winning piece of cinema; it’s there to be in disbelief at how unexpectedly better this turned out to be. I say it’s worth watching.