Produced by Jackass co-creator Jeff Tremaine, ‘A Bad Trip’ features Eric André and Lil Rel Howery playing Chris and Bud, two best friends on a cross-country road trip to New York so Chris can Declare your love to your high school crush Maria (Michaela Conlin).
As we await the return of Jackass later this year, Netflix has the perfect movie for anyone in the mood for a prankster comedy along the same lines.
The only problem for the duo is that Bud’s sister Trina (Tiffany Haddish) is after them for stealing her car. This isn’t an ordinary road trip either, as real viewers are drawn into Chris and Bud’s wacky adventures, unknowingly, forming a hidden-camera comedy.
André made a name for himself with ‘The Eric André Show,’ which parodies late-night talk shows and features a mix of bizarre celebrity interviews and hidden camera pranks. He has taken a similar approach to “A Bad Trip,” which he co-wrote with director Kitao Sakurai and Dan Curry, as a classic Hollywood romantic comedy, taking it into the real world.
It’s a great idea, in theory, to marry the exaggerated and unrealistic nature of romantic comedies with outrageous jokes. However, it never works as well as you’d like and too often aims low on its gags, which are of a repetitive nature. It relies too much on the viewers’ shocked reactions for the laughs, rather than the jokes themselves being particularly funny in their own right.
There are times when ‘A Bad Trip’ approach of mixing rom-com with banter works brilliantly, like when Chris bursts into a love song at a food court to the bewilderment of all who look at him. But the moments when the movie works only serve to make it more frustrating when it delivers another nudity prank or, more offensively, when a gorilla (well, a man in a gorilla suit, obviously) sexually assaults Chris in a Zoo.
You don’t necessarily see a joke comedy for its nuances, but ‘Bad Trip’ lacks variety. There is also nothing so outrageous that it makes you talk about it afterwards, like Rudy Giuliani’s amazing interview in the far superior movie ‘Borat 2’.
While it pales in comparison to the recent sequel to Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy, ‘A Bad Trip’ shares something in common with that film, as it doesn’t always joke at the expense of its unwitting audience. There are really moving moments, like when Chris gets advice from an army recruiter or when the two friends share a moving moment on a crowded bus.
But those moments of variety are few and far between, despite the best efforts of Eric André, Lil Rel Howery and Tiffany Haddish to liven up the jokes of a whole that ends up feeling somewhat stale. Haddish, in particular, is loaded with a funny little character who doesn’t do much more than get angry during pranks to terrify viewers.
There is no denying that, as with any joke, it is impressive what they have managed to get away with. It’s a shame those efforts weren’t directed toward a series of similar pranks, all with the goal of doing the most outrageous thing to get a pretty standard surprise response from real-life people.
‘A Bad Trip’ contains some laughs for those with a penchant for hidden camera prank comedy, and the awkwardness that goes with it. But even those fans would do better to rewatch old Jackass or Borat episodes and movies.