It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
To judge by a lot of the movies I've been seeing, the most pressing issue of our time (indeed, the only issue in most movies about teenagers) is who to take to the senior prom. Faithful readers will know that this question has been raised in at least six movies already this year, and I'm not even counting the one about who Carrie II will kill at the prom.
"Trippin' '' transports this issue to the African-American community, in a high-spirited comedy about a likable senior named Gregory Reed (Deon Richmond), who puts off everything until the last possible moment. When he asks his parents for "funds to finance my senior prom activities,'' they laugh at him: He hasn't even sent in his college applications yet, his dad points out. First things first.
Gregory's problem is that he lives in a world of daydreams. The movie opens with one--an island fantasy, shot in the style of a music video, with Gregory basking in the admiration of a brace of Hawaiian Tropics girls. A friend of his, who wears leg braces, inspires a daydream in which he becomes "The Terminator," crossed with "RoboCop." And a visit to an Army recruiting office triggers a fantasy in which Gregory receives the Medal of Honor--plus, the president tells him, "unreleased CDs from Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.'' Gregory has fallen in love with Cinny Hawkins (the beautiful Maia Campbell) and would like to ask her to the prom--but lacks the funds and the courage. His friends advise him to impress her with his bright future, so he lies and says he's been given a full scholarship to UCLA. There's a sweet scene where they wander through a dock area, dreaming of voyages they could take--on the sea and in life.
There seems to be, alas, a requirement that almost every movie about black teenagers requires drugs somewhere in the plot. "Trippin' '' supplies a no-good drug dealer who at one point has Gregory's friend hanging upside down from a crane, and the scenes involving this villain don't really seem necessary. I guess the crime stuff is there to provide the plot with prefab suspense, but it might have been more fun to develop Cinny's character more fully, because there's a lot more to her than simply beauty.