A scene from Girls Trip. (Michele K. Short/Universal Pictures)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Why we women are flocking to ‘Girls Trip’

You know these girls. They live down the street, around the corner or across the hall. They are your ace boon coon, your BFF, family.

They laugh with you and cry with you. They’re there through the good and bad, the ups and downs, through thick and thin.

And whether you talked yesterday, a week ago or sometime last year, they have your back. No matter what.

They are the women we see in “Girls Trip,” the laugh-out-loud comedy showing now about four best friends from college reuniting after some time apart for a jaunt to the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.

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It stars Queen Latifah as Sasha, Jada Pinkett Smith as Lisa, Regina Hall as Ryan and Tiffany Haddish as party girl Dina. I read somewhere recently that Haddish, who was new to me, deserves a Melissa McCarthy-style breakout for her hilarious antics in the film.

“Girls Trip,” No. 2 at the box-office this past weekend, isn’t all that different from “Rough Night,” the R-rated comedy about another group of college friends who reunite for a bawdy bachelorette weekend in Miama.

Executive producer Will Packer and actresses Jada Pinkett Smith and Regina Hall talk about the hilarious new film "Girls Trip."

The stars - Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Zoë Kravitz, Ilana Glazer and Kate McKinnon – were white so despite their behavior, they’re able to retain their status as ladies.

Black women should be so lucky.

Instead of girls just having fun, we’re labeled promiscuous Jezebels.

Now let me hasten to say I’m not advocating sex before marriage. What I am saying is it happens but it shouldn’t define who we are any more than it does our white sisters.

Before seeing the movie Friday, I was prepared to hate it. I knew of at least one person who’d said it made him “uncomfortable” and perpetuates the aforementioned stereotypical view of us black women.

My reaction? Oh brother, all we need is another film by black folk perpetuating negative stereotypes.

RELATED: Are black girls worse than white girls?

While there were a couple of moments I could have done without — the grapefruit and banana demo, for instance — I saw none of that.

What I did see was, well, a reasonable facsimile of myself, my sister Jo, roommate Sherry, Sharon and Hilda in our late teens on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi.

I look back now and think ‘Thank you, Jesus, for how you kept us.’

I never so much as smoked marijuana but I did a whole lotta drinking Old Milwaukee. I don’t remember us ever bumping and grinding on the dance floor but we partied hard and all night long.

Each week, Gracie Bonds Staples will bring you a perspective on life in the Atlanta area. Life with Gracie runs online Tuesday, Thursday and alternating Fridays.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The college friends in “Girls” called themselves the “Flossy Posse” but we were the Jets as in Bennie and the Jets.

I haven’t seen our friend Bennie since college but the Jets and I gather once a year for the Southern Miss homecoming, usually in October, my birthday month, not so much to recapture our college days but because we love each other and still enjoy being together.

We rarely talk during the year, but come September, we’re emailing each other like crazy, deciding when we’ll likely arrive. Sherry is in charge of getting our game tickets. Jo makes our hotel reservations. No husbands are allowed. It’s just us girls.

It wasn’t surprising to learn that “Girls Trip” resonated with audiences and drew a largely female, 79 percent — and African-American, 59 percent — crowd. We definitely could relate.

I went with my husband, and he laughed as hard and as loud as I did.

Ditto for Robin Samuels of Marietta who attended with her girlfriend Carla Miller of Lithia Springs.

Robin Samuels, right, take a selfie with Carla Miller before taking in a matinee on Sunday. The longtime friends were among thousands who turned out to view “Girls Trip” over the weekend. Contributed
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“There is nothing like good girlfriends to get you through the rough patches in life,” Samuels said. “True friendship is priceless.”

But neither of them were comfortable with the use of the N word, the grapefruit/banana scene or the homeless man exposing himself, at which point I closed my eyes.

“I think some of that should have been left to your imagination,” Samuels said.

Overall, they gave the film a collective A and B- (girlfriends don’t always agree) for its high energy, over-the-top funny moments and the reminder to let lose and have a little fun sometimes.

“I think all black women wear a lot of hats and put up a facade,” Miller said. “It’s okay to be yourself.”

Carolyn Banks, a 67-year-old retired educator from McDonough, loved it, too.

“Unlike my previous perception, I thought this rendition of African-American sisterhood was a classy, powerful statement of real life,” she said. “A hilarious ‘how to’ balance real-life issues of work, marriage, friendship and children.”

Director Malcolm Lee demonstrated that he not only knows his audience but understands all the issues black women face. His ability to take those issues and handle them in an honest and humorous way is impressive.

I’ll say.

Truth is, even if all you do when you’re together now is share a glass of wine and talk into the wee hours of the night like us Jets, you know these girls because you were them at one time or another in your life.

They made you laugh out loud and filled your heart with endless joy. The Jets still do that for me, and I’m truly grateful.

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