So, when Maria says she’s headed back to Manhattan to prepare for her art gallery’s next major event, Chris begs Bud to drive with him to the Big Apple on a quest for love. (Very Harry and Lloyd chasing the Mary who got away to Aspen.) Initially reluctant, Bud not only gives in but also agrees to borrow Trina’s beloved car, a hot pink showstopper with “Bad Bitch” painted across its back windshield. Because she’s behind bars, it seemed a safe plan. Naturally, Trina busts out of jail just after they run off with her ride. So, following the Dumb & Dumber model, she becomes the hardened criminal chasing down two dummies as they drive to a dream scenario.
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Along the way, André, Howery, and Haddish pull pranks in character on an array of unsuspecting people in gas stations, smoothie shops, bars, and business meetings. Notably, these aren’t the kind of cruel pranks where a mark is damaged or embarrassed; the chaos here lands squarely on the consenting comedians. Some of these stunts might be familiar to fans of The Eric André Show, which Bad Trip’s helmer Kitao Sakurai frequently directed. Still, the pranks are surprising, strange, and childishly exhilarating. Some play on pure shock value, relishing in the stunned faces of those who think they’ve just witnessed a freak accident or a major crime.
A supreme improviser, Haddish switches from aggressive to cuddly depending on the mark, winning some of the movie’s most passionate — and hilarious — reactions. Howrey plays the straight man as André throws himself full-bodied into stunts that leave him a bare-assed buffoon before an unaware audience, who reacts with shock, horror, and — often — compassion. His commitment sells the bonkers bits to these real people, even when the seams of a stunt — or a gorilla costume — might show. Throughout, Good Samaritans step up with advice, aid, and some scorching real talk.Amid all the mayhem and bewildered reactions, such witnesses bring a touching tenderness and exciting authenticity to Bad Trip. Some even become crucial characters in the plot. A kindly old man, a vaping Army recruiter, and a nosy restaurant patron step out of the background to create plot points, encouraging dream-chasing, reconciliation, and even revenge! The plot points themselves are cliches. However, Bad Trip has subversive fun by exposing how easily real people fall into these expectations, and how they react when a cinematic flourish follows.
For instance, when Chris is encouraged to pursue Maria, he doesn’t just thank the old man on the bench and walks away. He bursts into song and dance like he’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer with a concussion. The outrageousness is exposed through the reactions of a mall full of people whose day just went from ordinary to absolutely confounding. Through this, Sakurai introduces a sly commentary of romantic comedies that pays off in a climax that is funny, smart, and gleefully rebellious.
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