Bad Trip Synopsis: The film follows two best friends (Eric Andre and Lil Rel Howery) who take a road trip from Florida to New York City so one of them can declare his love for his high school crush (Michaela Conlin), all the while being chased by the other’s criminal sister (Tiffany Haddish), whose car they have stolen for the trip.
Simply put, Eric Andre is a comedic genius. Throughout his five seasons as host of The Eric Andre Show, Andre has pushed his signature brand of surreal sketch comedy to exciting new boundaries. Few have boldly thrown themselves into their gags like this talented funnyman, often going to awe-inspiring extremes to elicit laughter from his audience (Andre’s RNC visit is still one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen).
While Andre has enjoyed some crossover on the big screen, his first starring vehicle Bad Trip is finally discovering the light of day after spending over a year on the shelf (it was originally scheduled to be a 2020 online SXSW premiere before being acquired by Netflix). His mixture of vulgarity and lovingly amoral gags won’t be for everyone, but the film had me bursting out in laughter throughout its 84-minute runtime.
To Andre’s credit, Bad Trip works as a brilliant marriage between his hyper-realism style and a satirical parody on comedic conventions. Within the film’s slap-dash narrative, Andre and his team of writers (Dan Curry and director Kitao Sakurai) embrace every avenue to twist the audience’s expectations through the comedian’s distinctly bizarre stylings.
Common comedy tropes like extravagant musical numbers and a half-baked love story are hilariously lampooned, with Andre having a blast coloring outside the lines of what the genre typically dictates (the end credit scene, which tributes a forgotten mid-2000s comedy, is sharp in its referencing and uproarious in its impact). I love the way real people are implemented into the mix as well. Their genuinely puzzled reactions serve as an unfiltered greek chorus to the madness at hand, creating a subversive angle from their nose-turning towards moments of studio comedy artifice. Bad Trip deserves praise for its hilarious and intelligent mockery of studio comedy norms.
Only good things can come from assembling a trio of Hollywood’s most dynamic comedic stars. I don’t want to gush too much, but I consider Andre to be one of our generation’s defining comedic voices. Few could implement such steadfast dedication into wildly deranged gags, as Andre’s open-hearted sincerity creates laughter like no other. Lil Rey Howery makes a perfect straight man to Andre’s buffoonery, playing off the situations well with his own sharp sense of humor. I certainly can’t forget to mention Tiffany Haddish, who often steals the show as a comedic thunderstorm with unparalleled energy.
Bad Trip certainly has the makings of a late-night classic, but a few blemishes do detract from the experience. Even considering its slight runtime, some frames lag as they work to set up more grandiose comedic set pieces. Andre’s scattershot sensibility highlights most of the film’s comedic strengths. That being said, it doesn’t always translate to the most succinct narrative experience.
Missteps aside, I had an uproarious time watching Andre and company throw themselves into their inventively drawn gags. Bad Trip is one of the best mainstream comedies in some time, taking the well-trudged genre to daring new heights of hilarious stupidity.
Bad Trip is now available on Netflix.
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