'Bad Trip' Uses Gross Pranks to Prove That America Isn't So Bad After All

Directed by Kitao Sakurai

BY Alex HudsonPublished Mar 29, 2021

As a semi-scripted prank movie about road tripping across America, it's almost impossible not to compare Bad Trip to last year's Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. But while the earlier film exposed America in all of its racism, Bad Trip is far kinder and gentler. Yeah okay, there's a scene where Eric Andre and Lil Rel Howery get chased by a guy with a knife after getting their dicks stuck together, but Bad Trip is ultimately a flattering portrait of everyday Americans.

Which isn't to say that Bad Trip is overtly political. It's essentially got the same plot of Dumb and Dumber, as hapless Florida resident Chris (Andre) goes on a cross-country quest to woo dream girl Maria (Michaela Conlin) after she extends an off-hand invitation for him to attend her gallery show in New York. He brings along bestie Bud (Howery), and the pair make the trip in a hot-pink "Bad Bitch" car stolen from Bud's incarcerated sister Trina (a hysterically aggro Tiffany Haddish with neck tats).

Grossness ensues. Andre gets way too drunk in a cowboy bar and spews chunks everywhere. He gets fucked by a gorilla after breaking into its enclosure. And of course, there's that bit where Andre and Howery get their dicks stuck together in a Chinese finger trap. All these hijinks are filmed with hidden cameras, and the reactions of bystanders make every joke 10 times funnier — especially when Andre takes over a mall for a flash mob-style musical number.

The reactions range from bemusement to concern to touching helpfulness. People get annoyed but almost no one — aside from the knife guy — gets mad. There's no overt racism, even when the guys cause a ruckus in the all-white Electric Cowboy bar. In one especially sweet scene, someone attempts to simultaneously help escaped convict Trina and the cop who's chasing her. Older folks offer romantic advice about seizing the moment, and a bouncer at Maria's gallery is kind and considerate when Andre tries to bribe his way in. Chris and Bud have a sweet best friendship, but that's nothing compared to the empathy most people offer these chaos-causing fuckups.

Just in case you felt bad for all the poor suckers who get sucked into the pranks, Bad Trip breaks the fourth wall as the credits roll. The actors point out the cameras and everyone has a laugh. It's enough to make you think that, as messed up as the world seems sometimes, most people aren't so bad after all.

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