Get ready to know the name Tiffany Haddish. If there were such a thing as Comedy Oscars, she would win for "Girls Trip ."
Like Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids," Haddish steals this film from her big-name co-stars: Queen Latifah, Regina Hall and Jada Pinkett Smith. All four actresses have shining moments of comedy and heart in director Malcolm D. Lee's ode to female friendships, thanks to the winning script by Kenya Barris ("black-ish") and Tracy Oliver ("Barbershop: The Next Cut"), but Haddish emerges as the most memorable. She has a scene with a grapefruit that will go down in the annals of hilarious movie moments.
The "Girls Trip" here is to the Essence Festival in New Orleans. A group of friends who called themselves the Flossy Posse back in college in the '90s travel there for a long-awaited reunion after one of their members, self-help guru Ryan (Hall), is invited to give the festival's keynote speech. She's joined by her longtime besties: Journalist Sasha (Latifah), who runs a celebrity-gossip website; Lisa (Pinkett Smith), an uptight, divorced nurse with two young children, and brash, outspoken Dina (Haddish), who hasn't stopped partying since graduation.
Ryan and her retired football star husband Stewart (Mike Coulter) have billed themselves as the couple that has it all, and they have a lot riding on her Essence appearance: They're poised to sign a major corporate contract at the festival that would bring them Oprah-level success. Their agent (Kate Walsh), who insists on awkwardly using street slang, warns Ryan against getting too "turned" over her girls' weekend, lest she jeopardize the deal.
The posse's trouble begins when Sasha receives a paparazzi picture of Stewart in a compromising position. Could it be the perfect couple isn't so perfect after all? What about their lucrative contract?
The women in "Girls Trip" are so distinct and well-drawn, they're universally relatable. Everyone has a wild friend they wish was like Dina or one as tightly wound as Lisa. Many of us know people so driven they might compromise their personal standards to achieve more public goals.
If only we were all as glamorous as Sasha, who consistently rocks incredible hairdos, as composed as Ryan or as riotous as Dina, who's like Id personified. Her enumeration of what she plans to do to Stewart in revenge for his scandalous photo is another scene-stealing moment. Her plans are so graphic, they can't be printed here. The Flossy Posse is #friendshipgoals.
"Girls Trip" definitely earns its R rating. There's crude language, overt sexual jokes, drug references, public urination, bar fights and full-frontal male nudity. And, girl, is it funny. Nothing is gratuitous. The story is both outrageous and realistic, grounded by the women's friendship.
Because the film was actually shot during the Essence Festival, there are countless cameos. Look for Mariah Carey, Maxwell, Ava DuVernay, Terry McMillan, Iyanla Vanzant, Morris Chestnut, Faith Evans, Common, Diddy, Ne-Yo, Doug E. Fresh and many others.
This film delivers for all adult audiences. Regardless of your race or gender, you'll be laughing all the way home. The members of the Flossy Posse are fully realized people: accomplished people trying to have fun and find themselves as they navigate their grown-up lives. They just do it with more outrageous swagger than most.
I can't wait to see this film again (and again), and to watch Haddish in whatever she does next.
"Girls Trip," a Universal Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for "for crude and sexual content throughout, pervasive language, brief graphic nudity, and drug material." Running time: 122 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.
MPAA definition of R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .