Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 25 minutes, Director – Kitao Sakurai
Best friends Chris (Eric Andre) and Bud (Lil Rel Howery) travel from Florida To New York so Chris can meet-up with his high school crush (Michaela Conlin).
Hidden camera prank films often rely on the reactions of unsuspecting participants for humour. The natural responses as members of the public try to hold back laughter, or act out in anger, or sometimes just stand by and watch in bemused shock and amazement, are emphasised in close-ups so we understand what we’re supposed to be laughing at. Yet, in Bad Trip the humour almost always comes from the characters at the centre of the various pranks. Their actions and persistence in their various goals helps form the often laugh-out-loud nature of the pranks, simply showing the improvisational skills of the central trio of actors as they interact with unknowing people. Through this a plot is formed, linked by the various events of the film, one that is focused on throughout and yet never gets too heavy or in the way of the stunts at that make up this loose, yet un-dropped, storyline.
Best friends Chris (Eric Andre) and Bud (Lil Rel Howery) go on a road trip from Florida to New York City in the hope of meeting up with Chris’ high school crush Maria (Michaela Conlin). However, their only mode of transport is the intensely decorated, bright pink car of Bud’s imprisoned sister Trina (Tiffany Haddish) – emblazoned with the words “Bad B!tch on the back window. Unfortunately for them, freshly escaped Trina is hot on their tail and she’s out for deadly revenge, Haddish’s exasperated rage at the lack of help from any member of the public is delightfully comic. Her scenes and presence break up the bursts of hilarity ranging from the dark to the utterly gross.
For those aware of Andre’s Adult Swim fake talk show, The Eric Andre Show, Bad Trip very much has elements – perhaps the more disgusting, bodily moments – that feel like they could go alongside his awkward celeb interviews, with less of the more alternative stylings of the show. Throw in dream sequences, some bad trips (the title acts like 2017’s Girls Trip) and a musical number – Andre acting as the clumsily unprepared lead of a mall flash mob – and there’s plenty of variety when it comes to the chaotic scenes of the film, telling the story with each moment, where the extras and supporting cast are simply unaware that they are being filmed. It’s a lesser-seen element when it comes to this sort of film and it works well in regards to the places that Bad Trip goes – especially with a trio of wildly funny performances at the centre of it.
Fully pushing the limits of a number of the ideas and scenarios -resulting in audible gasps of “Oh no” from the viewer as they can’t look away from the screen at the mania that unfolds, although some may be peeking through their fingers, particularly during one scene containing an interaction with a ‘gorilla’ at a zoo. It’s clear from the surprise of Andre going completely starkers in the first three minutes that there’s a lot to come over the course of the film. And at 85 minutes it breezes through its hysterical road trip, never feeling in your face or as if it’s showing off how funny it is by zooming in on the reactions of strangers (who don’t happen to identify the cast) who just happen to be in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time. It effectively carries along its narrative, told through the links between each setting and prank, and does it with truly funny results.
By focusing on plot through the pranks and making the three great central performances the core source of humour Bad Trip feels different to a number of other hidden camera films, and shows, and makes for a laugh-out-loud hilarious, highly gross-out, time.