Netflix UK film review: Bad Trip
James R | On 14, Jan 2022
Director: Kitao Sakurai
Cast: Eric Andre, Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish
“Sorry, I thought the window was open,” says Chris (Eric Andre), after smashing through someone’s patio door and running through their kitchen. That’s the start of Bad Trip, and it sets the tone for the absurdity that’s to follow – and unabashedly moves the bar as low as it gets.
The film follows Chris and his best friend, Bud (Lil Rey Howery), as they travel across America to catch up with the high school crush that got away from Chris, after they unexpectedly cross paths years later. But while the set-up is as a scripted as a comedy gets, Bad Trip has a twist up its sleeve: every person they meet along the way is real. That sets the stage for a string of pranks on unsuspecting members of the public that range from distasteful to downright offensive – and, somewhere in between that spectrum, worryingly entertaining.
It’s an inspired fusion of two staple comedy genres: the road trip and the hidden camera sketch. Director Kitao Sakurai seamlessly switches between the two, crafting elaborate situations at coffee shops, bars and restaurants that can then deviate at any moment into Punk’d territory. And so we watch as Chris accidentally puts his hand in a blender or climbs onto someone’s car in the middle of singing an impromptu romantic showtune. And, in between every mishap and outburst of mayhem, we also watch as Trina (Tiffany Haddish), Chris’ sister, escapes from prison and chases after her brother because he’s taken her car.
Haddish is hilariously committed to the role, right down to shouting at members of the public and pulling a door of a police car – the exact opposite of Andre and Howery, who have a believable buddy chemistry fuelled by improv-heavy banter. Their winning screen presence keeps drawing us back into their quest, just enough to be surprised once again when things go off the rails and another stunt is lined up. You spend half the time guffawing at the outrageous shock and the other half on the edge of your seat trying to spot the next one coming. Keeping its runtime at a tight 80 minutes, the result is a laugh-out-loud funny ride that manages to avoid becoming stale or repetitive. The less said about the scenes at the zoo, however, the better.