If there is one genre of movies that I have a complicated relationship with, it’s films driven by pranks. Very few manage to weave in a coherent narrative within the movie’s structure without being solely driven by only jokes. There are a few films in this “hidden camera” genre that do this very well and work on their own as movies, like “Borat” or “Bad Grandpa.” However, the rest in this genre, like the “Jackass” movies, tend to be entertaining at the moment but leave no real impact. “Bad Trip,” a film that I kind of enjoyed and laughed a lot during, is one of those movies.
I was excited for “Bad Trip” for one reason: Eric Andre. I think that Eric Andre’s brand of absurd humor and his experience with this type of comedy would lend themselves perfectly to this film style. I also think his sense and style of comedy is a bit more intelligent in its execution than someone’s like Johnny Knoxville in “Jackass.” I thought that Andre would be the one to weave in the presence of a narrative as one of the writers on this film while also delivering hilarious gags.
Andre delivers on one of these fronts by implementing hilarious scenarios for himself, Lil Rel Howery and Tiffany Haddish, to partake in. The movie is relentless in its humor that it is almost exhausting. There aren’t any breaks in big setpieces to allow the viewer to relax. I had to take a break about halfway through the movie to breathe for a moment because of how fast and without stop these moments come. Two outstanding moments take place in bars or restaurants that push the limits of this genre. It allowed for real interaction with the film’s characters by those who are regular bystanders. These people weren’t just reacting to absurdity; they took part in it, which I thought was very cool.
However, the half-baked attempt at a narrative is what dragged “Bad Trip” down for me. It blends road trip elements from other movies with the hidden camera style but makes the film less interesting. The story feels like an afterthought, but I really think it could have gone to different, more interesting or absurd places than where it went.
It revolves around Eric Andre’s character, Chris, who travels to New York from Florida to meet his high school crush, Lil Rel Howery’s character, Bud. Meanwhile, Bud’s sister, Trina (Tiffany Haddish), chases them to get her car back. It is such a simple story that it doesn’t feel natural next to all the absurd dialogue that happens in actual hidden camera material. I think a story that steered into the absurdity of their actions would have served the movie much better in the long run.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of “Bad Grandpa” when “Bad Trip” introduced its road trip storyline. As silly as “Bad Grandpa” is, it actually takes a surprising amount of time to introduce its characters. That story follows a grandpa and his grandson traveling cross country to deliver the boy to his father. The grandpa starts the movie not liking his grandson but slowly learns to love and appreciate him. This is a simple story too, but at least there is a clear effort put in to have an arc for its main character. “Bad Trip” lacks this dedication to its characters and definitely could have done better in this regard.
“Bad Trip” is definitely a mixed bag. I laughed a lot while watching it, but it wasn’t so fun that I would watch it again with friends. Its first half is really strong, but its ending falters since it tries to wrap up story moments that are poorly set up throughout the film. Maybe give it a shot if you’re looking for something to watch, but definitely don’t drop everything to watch it.