Bad Trip may be Eric Andre’s most daring of comedic experiments.
Bad Trip (2020) Review By Mark McPherson
Published on April 2, 2021
Rating 4 /5
Eric Andre has been practicing and perfecting surreal and extreme pranks for years on The Eric Andre Show. Following in the footsteps of the Jackass boys, the next logical step was to expand that bizarre and surreal humor only he could weave so well into a feature film. The result is a film that finds plenty of slapstick and absurdity amid a flimsy premise, more astounding for the assembly and surprise.
The story is akin to a romantic comedy being merged with a road trip. Eric Andre plays Chris, a clumsy man who is astonished to run into his high school crush, Maria (Michaela Conlin). He’s shy to approach her when she comes into his life at both jobs of the car wash and smoothie place. Of course, Chris’s distracting nature will lead to such absurd sequences of him losing all his clothes to a vacuum and sticking his hand in an active blender. Customers simply stand back and watch in horror.
There’s a unique approach to such stunts in that Eric keeps the premise moving of falling in love around people he’s meant to shock with blood and nudity. One of his finest moments finds him breaking into song after talking to a stranger about how he’s falling in love. This leads into his elaborate stunt to stage a seemingly impromptu musical at the mall, complete with confused reactions of shoppers.
With Maria hosting an art gallery in New York City, Chris decides to make the trip and confess his love. To get there, he convinces his best friend Bud (Lil Rel Howery) to drive to the city in his sister’s car. Bud is reluctant, however, since his sister Trina (Tiffany Haddish) is in imprisonment and her car is impounded. Though Chris assures her it’ll be okay to take the car since she can’t do anything about it, Trina soon escapes from prison and seeks to track down her brother for taking her automobile, easily identifiable for the hot pink exterior and the BadBitch license plate.
That’s about all you need to know about the story which I doubt anyone is seriously coming to this film seeking. The rest of the film is a mash of all the eccentric ridiculousness that Eric Andre can stir up in public. This includes everything from puking in a bar after getting too drunk to meandering about a grocery store while high on drugs. Not being bound by the restrictions of Adult Swim, Eric also tests the limits of just how far he can go with the gross. After one wild night, he and Howery have their exposed penises stuck together in a Chinese finger-trap, bringing about plenty of shots where their foreskin stretches as they try to separate. A more elaborate prank features Eric going inside a gorilla cage where the gorilla pulls his pants down and rapes him. Sensing that may not have been enough for a reaction, Eric goes back into the cage where the gorilla proceeds to force him into a blowjob.
The film does have its more interesting moments of being a social experiment to gauge reactions. This can best be seen in the bar sequence where three visits are made. First, Trina enters the establishment to ask if anyone has seen her brother, his friend, and her car so that she can kill them. Next, Chris and Bud park Trina’s car out front and enter the bar, some patrons recognizing the two and informing them of Trina, prompting them to leave fast. Lastly, Trina returns asking if anyone has seen them. One woman who is quite loud and opinionated quickly tells her everything and states how she doesn’t want to become a target by being honest and open, lest she is targeted. She practically dominates this scene that the rest of the customers seem more embarrassed for her than any of the antics of Andre, Howery, and Haddish.
Bad Trip maybe Eric Andre’s most daring of comedic experiments. The sequences he stages are unbelievably detailed, including the climax of trying to make the premise of White Chicks believable with elaborate makeup. The absurdity knows no bounds and often made me burst out in laughter, even after having endured enough of Andre’s humor to know what to expect. With nearly every scene filmed in public, there’s always some sense of public reaction and confusion, one of the best is a dream sequence where Chris imagines himself getting married to Maria where he kisses the bride...then the priest...then all three of them circle up for a threeway. That’s the kind of strangeness I’ve come to expect from Andre’s style and Bad Trip more or less delivers on what it promises.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.