Gonzo comedian Eric André is Chris, an underachieving Florida man drifting through life. His life finds new purpose when his high school crush Maria (Michaela Conlin) comes into the juice joint where he is a self-proclaimed chef. As he blends drinks (and other things) they catch up. She’s now a hot shot art dealer in New York, back in her home town for a quick visit.
He asks her out but she declines, telling him she’s off to the airport. But, she adds, “If you’re ever in Manhattan, you should come to the gallery.”
Chris, in love, takes her invitation to heart and convinces his best friend Bud (Lil Rel Howery) to “borrow” his jailbird sister Trina’s (Tiffany Haddish) hot pink Crown Victoria and travel cross country to New York City.
Trouble is, Trina, recently escaped from prison, thinks the car is stolen and vows to track down Chris and Bud, to get her car and revenge.
Partly scripted, mostly improvised, “Bad Trip” follows in the footsteps of “Jackass” and Sacha Baron Cohen and often kicks it up a notch. The satirical edge of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is missing but the outrageous antics on display might make Borat Sagdiyev blush. Barf, poop and bestiality are stops along the way in a road trip that includes drunken line dancing, accidentally getting super high and a tribute to “West Side Story” that is as sweet as it is surreal.
Not every prank sticks the landing, but you have to admire how far André and company (including director Kitao Sakurai) are willing to go to get a reaction. The elaborately staged hidden camera pranks are so outrageous it’s hard to imagine anyone in real life falling for them, but in the moment, who knows?
Several things become clear watching “Bad Trip.”
Firstly, the cast was game for almost anything. André, Haddish and Howery risk life and limb for a laugh, putting themselves in harm’s way in ridiculous ways. “I experienced physical and mental trauma I may never recover from,” Chris says, but I might guess André may feel the same way.
Secondly, it speaks to human nature. André’s bad behavior generally speaking brings out the best in people. It’s an oddly life affirming message from a movie that features random people covered in puke. From an old man on a park bench who gives Chris life changing advice to a bus full of people cheering on his lovesick journey, it’s filled with as much heart as it is gross stuff.
“Bad Trip” is a loosely structured good time that rides the line between gross and goofy, sincere and shocking.