Eric Andre’s new prank comedy film, Bad Trip, has me daydreaming about experiencing this level of performance art and comedy in my daily life and wishing more than anything that I could have been one of the extras in this film. Eric Andre created a mixture of scripted buddy comedy and hidden camera prank comedy to create, what I believe was a comedic masterpiece.
Partners in crime, Eric Andre and Lil Rel Howery as Chris Carey and Bud Malone respectively are matched up against Tiffany Haddish’s Trina Malone on their road trip journey from Florida to NYC. After stealing Trina’s car, Chris and Bud start to make their way across the country in Trina’s pink sedan clad with “Bad Bitch” license plates and detailing. Stopping in cities along the way to wreak havoc, the production of this film was nothing short of well-rehearsed and beautifully organized. The pranks performed in each location were insanely well planned and received spectacularly by a range of unknowing audience members. I pictured this form of audience participation in the film as a form of theatre where the lines between performer and audience are blurred. Each onlooker became a performer in their own right unintentionally. While the narrative is great, the novelty of this film really does lie in the audience’s reactions throughout each delicately planned prank.
The actors that exist throughout this narrative are limited but really carry this film in spectacular ways. Eric Andre as Chris Carey is vulnerable in an unconventional way. In the very first scene of the film, Chris is working at a car shop and while he is vacuuming the inside of a customer’s car, he sees Maria Li (Chris’ high school crush played by Michaela Conlin). In Chris’s overwhelmed state, he accidentally vacuums off all of his clothes and is standing completely naked in front of an innocent customer and the love of his life, Maria. There are countless instances throughout the film where Andre’s fearless acting and performance are so unbelievably funny and captivating. Lil Rel Howery as Bud Malone is the perfect partner in crime to match Chris’s fearlessness. Bud is a cautious yet trustworthy companion for the journey that Chris needs to take to NYC to see Maria. The most memorable Chris and Bud scene for me was an instance where they both get their genitals stuck on opposite sides of a Chinese finger trap they bought at a gas station. Howery’s performances through these pranks were of the highest quality and in a way match the fearlessness of Andre’s. Tiffany Haddish’s performances can only be described as badass as well as fearless. Haddish portrays a scary and villainous role in this film but that doesn’t make Trina’s character any less lovable for me. Since her brother and Chris stole her car, Trina is out for blood. The best Trina moment in the film, besides the horrifically funny ending in the art gallery was the scene where she brings posters with Chris and Bud’s faces on them into a restaurant and tells everyone that she needs to find them and kill them. Not long after, Chris and Bud enter the same restaurant and we get to watch as the patrons piece together how they are involved with Trina. Michaela Conlin’s innocent performance as Maria is a perfect juxtaposition to the craziness of the rest of the cast. Regardless of her innocence, Conlin still gets her shining moment where she gets to completely let loose and lose it in the gallery at the end of the film. Conlin shines in every scene she is in, even though she is in less of the film than most of the principal cast.
I can’t fathom the meticulous planning that went into the production of this film. With a diverse cast and production team, this movie hits the spot for diversity and representation. The representation of Black actors as well as participating audience members in this film is splendid. With Michaela Conlin as representation for the AAPI community, this film really gets nothing short of an A+ for representation. There are countless scenes that had me questioning how they got away with such outrageous pranks that had me rolling on the floor laughing through this film. Bad Trip felt like a breath of fresh air for comedy this year and I can’t wait to watch it again.
Movie review by Allie Posner