Bad Trip is a perfect film. There. I said it.
Yes, it’s true that the mostly improvised romantic comedy, now streaming on Netflix, doesn’t have much in common with other titans of cinema. After all, the hidden camera genre isn’t known to garner serious Hollywood acclaim, and, as a matter of taste, this prank-tactic epic is unabashedly lowbrow. (I’ll let the film’s most discussed scene — one involving star Eric Andre, a crowd of unsuspecting onlookers, and a violently horny gorilla — speak for itself in that regard.)
We’re talking two dudes with their dicks stuck in a finger trap funny.
But, when condensed into a swift hour and 24-minute runtime, these hard-won, no-fucks-given laughs make this outrageous, offensive, and occasionally disgusting movie minute-for-minute the most entertaining thing I’ve seen in a very, very long time. Reader, it is…just…so…funny.
We’re talking tears streaming down your face funny. We’re talking milk coming out of your nose funny. We’re talking two dudes with their dicks stuck in a finger trap helplessly stumbling along a golf course before getting chased down the green by an angry guy wielding a driving club funny. Of course, fans of this kind of thing have come to expect nothing less from the folks behind Adult Swim’s cult hit The Eric Andre Show.
Director Kitao Sakurai, who co-wrote Bad Trip‘s screenplay with Andre and fellow Eric Andre Show alum Dan Curry, keeps his movie more grounded than the surrealist talk show, but not by much.
Andre and co-lead Lil Rel Howery play friends Chris and Bud in this ridiculous road trip adventure. When Chris runs into his childhood crush Maria, played by Michaela Conlin, at the car wash, a mishap involving a malfunctioning vacuum leaves him unable (read: too naked) to shoot his shot. So Bud, having stolen his sister’s hot pink Lincoln Town Car with a “Bad Bitch” decal on the back window, agrees to drive Chris from Florida to New York City for another shot at the one he loves.
It’s a solid enough premise, elevated to its highest comedic potential through Bad Trip‘s stunningly well-executed and totally unwavering commitment to the bit.
The resulting chaos is a lovable blend of light-hearted fun and genuine kindness.
Instead of getting to know our heroes through scripted scenes, we’re introduced through a series of hysterical public stunts that position innocent passersby as surprise supporting players in Chris and Bud’s journey. The characters we come to know and love, both scripted and unscripted, are presented in a chaotic string of unplanned moments that feel intoxicatingly high-stakes and surprisingly heartfelt.
Take, for example, Bud’s sister and main antagonist Trina. Played by Tiffany Haddish, Trina enters the film in a stunt that forces some poor guy to help her criminal character escape what looks like a prison transport vehicle. That stranger, of course, didn’t know it was fake and certainly didn’t recognize Haddish. (In an interview with Vulture, Andre said they specifically sought targets who wouldn’t clock the cast.) The resulting chaos is a lovable blend of in-on-the-joke fun and surprising kindness that I’ve never seen achieved in other prank-centric films.
“You better take your ass off,” the visibly shaken stranger says, as Haddish stumbles around in an orange jumpsuit, asking whether any guards have come by. “You better fucking run,” he repeats.
So she does. And when an actor posing as a corrections officer returns to the vehicle, asking about his prisoner, the stranger stoically covers for her, refusing to give her up. The officer leaves, and soon Trina returns for a hug, gleefully dubbing the man “an accomplice to my shit.”
He’s understandably and adorably baffled by the gesture.
Through the stranger’s palpable uneasiness and Haddish’s over-the-top performance — have I mentioned yet how amazing she is in this? — we learn everything we need to know about Trina, her stakes, and what kind of movie we’ll be watching. Achieving that balance of narrative continuity, dramatic tension, and outright hilarity is what this comedic team does so well, and the feature-length format lets them do it over and over again with ever-increasing success.
From a surprise musical in a mall to a waitress very willing to discuss her sexual history, every stop on this voyage is worth the road-time. I won’t give anything else away, but… Bad Trip is a perfect film. There. I said it, again. It’s sweet, it’s short and damn, is it funny.