girls trip movie

It’s safe to say that the summer of 2017 is all about the ladies…and ladies taking long-held beliefs about what makes a box office hit and completely blowing them out of the water.

Though Wonder Woman‘s Gal Gadot (and director Patty Jenkins!) and Atomic Blonde‘s Charlize Theron gave women some new action heroes to admire, one movie that deserves a closer look is Girls Trip. What could have been overlooked as yet another Hangover-esque story, Girls Trip has defied expectations, becoming one of the biggest standouts of the summer season. Sure, it didn’t open at number one, but if blockbusters like Batman v Superman and X-Men: Apocalypse taught us anything, opening weekend means very little in terms of quality. Girls Trip not only pulled in more than its projected debut with $31 million, but the raunchy comedy, anchored by an absolutely hilarious cast of black women, only saw a 36% drop in its second weekend, pulling in another $20 million in its second weekend.

The obsession with the number one box office spot will never go away, but after several weeks of holding strong at the box office (it has earned $88 million against a budget of only $19 million), it is time we address the big question: what can Hollywood learn from Girls Trip? The answer is: a great deal.

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atomic blonde trailer

(Welcome to What Women Watch, a series exploring what modern women are watching, and loving, on the big and small screens. In this edition, we examine how the films being made for women are changing for the better, as seen in movies like Atomic Blonde and Girls Trip.)

Last week, I went to see Atomic Blonde and I left that theater feeling like a badass. I left that theater feeling sexy. As I listened to two men on the way out say that Charlize Theron’s Lorraine could kick John Wick’s ass, it felt damn fine to be a woman. In the days that followed, the Atomic Blonde soundtrack has become my soundtrack. I listen to it at the gym, while I drive, and even when I sweep my floor. Her capabilities, her complexity, her charm…I couldn’t stop thinking about Atomic Blonde.

On Tuesday I went to see Girls Trip. I left the theater feeling like a badass. I left that theater feeling sexy. As I listened to all of the of women in the room (mothers with their daughters, couples, groups of friends) laughing and cheering, it felt damn fine to be a woman. I was a bit shy about seeing a buddy movie alone, but by the 10-minute mark, the whole theater felt like an old group of friends with inside jokes that we kept from the men in the audience. Those women on that screen, their capabilities, their complexity, their charm…I couldn’t help but feel camaraderie, and a certain amount of pride, in my closest female friends.

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Andy Casagrande filming sharks 2

When Jaws premiered in 1975, it created panic. Even for new viewers, seeing those soulless black eyes and hearing that music it changes you. Slasher movies made you weary of what could be hiding behind the shower curtain – Jaws made you afraid of any body of water. In the movies, a Great White Shark was as terrifying as any horror movie ghoul. Except this killer was real.

Sharks have always been a subject of fascination, but Jaws put them in the spotlight…for all the wrong reasons. Peter Benchley, the author of the original Jaws novel, is a lifelong shark advocate and expressed regret for ever writing the book that made him a millionaire. The fear caused by his work led to the hunting of sharks under the guise of safety for beach-goers.

A necessary part of the ecosystem, sharks are quite possibly one of the most misunderstood creatures in the world. But how do you counteract the fearsome persona perpetuated by one of the most popular films of all time? You grab that popularity and use it to feed one of the most educational and popular programs of all time, focusing on revamping the image of sharks and promoting their conservation above all else. Obviously.

The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week capitalizes on people’s morbid fascination with these mysterious creatures, luring people in with stories of shark attacks and up-close footage of real people in the water next to these beasts, and then blinding them with science! And it worked as well as a seal decoy off the coast of South Africa!

Until it didn’t. And then it did again. This is the rise and fall of Shark Week.

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Jupiter Ascending Poster

(Welcome to The Unpopular Opinion, a series where a writer goes to the defense of a much-maligned film or sets their sights on a movie seemingly beloved by all. In this edition: why the failure of Valerian the City of a Thousand Planets allows it to join the club of overlooked space fantasy that already includes the magnificent Jupiter Ascending.)

I saw Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets last week in a practically empty theater, and I left with a smile on my face. Once again Luc Besson gave us a fully immersive, beautiful universe, a romantic fantasy quest in an extraterrestrial setting, with a powerful message similar to that of The Fifth Element: Love conquers all. Inspired by the French comic books by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières, Luc Besson took us on a welcome journey to somewhere colorful and hopeful, welcome in a year filled with darker sci-fi tales like Life and Alien: Covenant. And yet, no one saw Valerian. It is destined to join the ranks of movies that we discuss for their financial failures instead of their successes.

One close cousin to Valerian is the Wachowski’s delightful 2015 space opera, Jupiter Ascending. Perhaps the reason I so enjoyed Valerian was because I also happen to be a part of another small group that adored this visionary take on a space fairy tale starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum. Admittedly, my love for Jupiter Ascending was a bit of a slow burn. It wasn’t until I went to bed the night after watching it that I realized how wonderful it really was. The more times I watched it, the more my love grew. It’s the kind of movie that I imagine watching with my future children and yet, I rarely ever get to talk to people who actually went to see it or have bothered to rent it. However when I do find someone who is part of this club, we have conversations built of pure joy and enthusiasm.

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Garry Marshall Revisited One Year After his Death

(Welcome to What Women Watch, a series exploring what modern women are watching, and loving, on the big and small screens. In this edition, we examine the work of the late Garry Marshall and the fingerprints he’s forever left on the romantic comedy.)

I don’t like to call them chick flicks.”

It has been one year since we lost Garry Marshall and the world has felt a little darker for it. Marshall is one of those filmmakers that has felt more like a comforting friend – Pretty Woman was my late grandmother’s favorite movie and I have probably seen it more times than Cinderella. It’s still my favorite fairytale. When my husband leaves (and since he’s in the military, that is quite often), it is the first movie I watch. During the stressful times when he is gone, I also find myself watching Marshall’s other films, like Runaway Bride or Valentine’s Day, not because they are masterpieces of American cinema, but because, while the other half of the bed is cold, those movies keep me warm.

That may sound hokey, but I mean that with all sincerity. While the world is ready to cringe at anything that feels too…well anything just feels, Garry Marshall offered sincerity in spades. He never shied away from it, his films were heartwarming for the sake of being heartwarming and for that I am forever thankful.

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american-gods-easter-wednesday 2

(Each week, we’ll kick off our discussion of American Gods by answering one simple question: which character do we worship this week?)

“What do you believe?”

After an episode that took a break from the main storyline, “Come to Jesus” returned to Shadow and Mr. Wednesday…and Anansi and Bilquis and the New Gods. American Gods concluded it’s first season with a bang, with a show of strength from the Old Gods and an official declaration of war from the New Gods. Mr. Nancy told us in episode two, and again at the beginning of episode eight that “Angry gets shit done.” With that as the battle cry for the season, American Gods showed us how dangerous these colorful characters can be and left us with the questions of not only what this war will do to the gods, but what will it mean for the rest of America.

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american gods a prayer for mad sweeney review

(Each week, we’ll kick off our discussion of American Gods by answering one simple question: which character do we worship this week?)

After the ultimate show of strength, as Mr. Wednesday sliced the head off of another god with a sword as big as himself, American Gods gave us its most tender episode of the show to date. “A Prayer For Mad Sweeney” takes us to Ireland in this grim fairytale, bringing Mad Sweeney under the microscope. Through Mr. Ibis’s narration and another fantastic performance by Emily Browning, Mad Sweeney transforms from lovable fool to tortured soul.

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the mummy nostalgia bomb

(Welcome to Nostalgia Bomb, a series where we take a look back on beloved childhood favorites and discern whether or not they’re actually any good. In this edition: Stephen Sommers’ 1999 blockbuster The Mummy goes under the microscope.)

Romance! Adventure! Mythology! Monsters! Oh my!

In 1999, I was the ripe old age of eight. I was a fourth grader who already felt like a nerd, wasn’t that interested in boys, and thought the epitome of cool was rocking my brother’s old three wolf moon t-shirt. That was the year The Mummy, starring Brenden Fraser (*swoon*), hit theaters. What followed was a chain of events that I can only describe as “borderline obsessive.” It’s rare for a movie, especially one has received so many mixed notices over the years, to change your life.

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a murder of gods review

(Each week, we’ll kick off our discussion of American Gods by answering one simple question: which character do we worship this week?)

Last week, we saw the New Gods’ plan in the form of the trippiest sales pitch ever seen in a jailhouse interrogation room, but this week, we were faced with something even crazier than that. The new gods spoke of franchising worship, but in this week’s “A Murder of Gods,” we got a taste of what that really looks like in the form of Vulcan (Corbin Bernsen), the god of the volcano, who managed to flourish, to a very frightening degree, by putting his fiery stamp on guns, and making every kill with a bullet a sacrifice to him. “A Murder of Gods” expands on episode five, by taking us deeper into the war rooms and the networks of the gods.

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comics to read after wonder woman

It’s official: Wonder Woman has hit theaters, on a scale that rivals her Trinity counterparts Batman and Superman. When I say that Wonder Woman has been a feminist icon that has empowered women since her inception, I don’t think I am telling you anything that you don’t already know or haven’t already heard in the months leading up to this blockbuster event. However, what you might not know, is that while Wonder Woman may be the most iconic female badass in the comic book world, she is certainly not the only one. And the list of incredible female characters extends far beyond the superhero genre.

From my experiences working in a comic book shop back in the day, many women that came in wanting to dive into the wonderful world of comics, arrived with the standard names in mind, whether they be the X-Men or the Gotham City Sirens (all wonderful choices, of course). However, they were always pleasantly surprised by the vast world of female-centric comic books that weren’t even on their radar. While I love Batman and Preacher and the men of Sin City as much as the next nerd, it is always important to have a story that you can see yourself in, that you can pull you up when you need it, and makes you feel less alone. Comic books are for heroes of all shapes, sizes, genders, sexualities, and races. Some may wear capes and fight crime, but others just bring awareness to otherwise untold stories and perspectives.

With that being said, ladies (And gentlemen! I’m not here to discriminate!), if you want something to read after watching Wonder Woman, you really can’t go wrong with these comics.

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