Film in review: “Bad Trip”

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The Winonan’s film reporter rates “Bad Trip” 3.5 of 5 stars.

Noah Mruz, film reviewer

By now we all know about films and television shows like “Borat,” ”Nathan for You” and “Jacka**”; Films that take pranks to another level with their absurdity, making you constantly wonder “there is no way this is real.”
Sacha Baron Cohen has become synonymous with the genre for the several films and TV shows he has produced in such a high quality and comedic way. There is another name that should be added to that list though: Eric Andre. Andre has been a prankster on Adult Swim with his late-night talk show parody “The Eric Andre Show” since 2012. On his show, Andre has bits where he pranks people on the streets of New York, as well as his celebrity guest.
Andre has taken this same style and brought it to the (streaming) big screen in his new film “Bad Trip.” The film follows Chris (Eric Andre) and his best friend Bud (Lil Rel Howery) as they take a road trip from Florida to New York City so Chris can finally confess his feelings to his childhood crush.The film is a hilarious and outrageous comedy, filmed entirely in the style of a hidden-camera prank show.
The main aspects of the film lay with the cast, the pranks and the plot of the film, creating a wild ride.
The cast of the film does a tremendous job. Andre is already a veteran of improvising pranks, no matter how absurd it is, creating some of his best performances. Whether he is reacting to getting his clothes ripped off in front of a stranger or asking a waitress when the appropriate time to bring up sex with a potential partner is, you’d be hard-pressed to believe how realistically he plays his role. Howery also does an amazing job playing off of Andre, and the two come together to create some terrific moments. The film also features Tiffany Haddish and Bud’s criminal sister, and she does a terrific job in this role as well.
Where a film like this needs to shine is in its pranks, and overall, it does a great job. Being familiar with Andre’s work in the past, I was expecting this film to be just as over-the-top as his show. Andre has described his show as the Guantanamo Bay of talk shows in the past, for those that are unaware. Although the pranks are still outlandish, they thankfully are not as crazy as the show. I say thankfully because he is pulling these pranks on real people, not celebrities or public figures. Do all the pranks in the film work? No, but did I laugh at almost all of them? Yeah. They were all entertaining with only a few cases where the prank went on longer than necessary. The strangest thing these pranks demonstrate, however, is just how sweet strangers can be. There are countless examples of people being pranked and trying their best to help the situation, rather than make the fake problem worse than it needs to be. Heartwarming is not a feeling I was expecting to feel coming out of this film.
Finally, the plot of the film. Ahh, what a simple plot, which I would say is perfect for this film. I could summarize the plot from A to Z in about 4 sentences, but that does not matter for this type of film. You don’t want a convoluted and confusing plot in a film that is centered around the pranks. The plot here is aiding the film to get from prank A to prank B to prank C with a simple set-up, so the viewer isn’t confused. It’s nothing that’s going to change your look on life or filmmaking, and that is perfectly fine here.
Pranks today have become somewhat diluted due to the rise of YouTubers that fake them rather than face the risk of people getting mad. When internet pranksters don’t fake pranks, it’s videos of them pushing their shopping cart into a stranger’s cart at the store; a very minorly aggressive prank with minor consequences. Masters of the craft know how to walk that line of an outrageous prank without being rude just to be rude. There’s a beautiful montage at the end of the film of people reacting to the news that what they just experienced was a prank, and you know you’ve done a good job if the people reacting are laughing instead of calling you an idiot for what you are doing. “Bad Trip” does an excellent job of entertaining with its characters and pranks, and keeps the plot simplistic enough to make sense of how the plot goes from A to B. The film allows the pranks to be what compels the viewer to keep watching carefully and excellently. I would recommend this film on Netflix for anyone in need of a nice and relatively short, funny and easygoing film. I’m giving “Bad Trip” a 3.5 out of 5 stars.