Eric Andre has done it again. With five seasons of the fan favorite “The Eric Andre Show” on Adult Swim under his belt, Andre has taken his talents to Netflix in the film “Bad Trip.” The film plays on Andre’s style of hyperbolic comedy that is borderline nonsensical at times. It’s quintessential Eric Andre, and a great film for fans of his work.
Directed by Kitao Sakuri, the feature stars Andre and Lil Rel Howery as two unassuming best friends, Chris and Bud, who embark on a wild adventure to New York City to meet the girl of Chris’s dreams, Maria (Michaela Conlin). As these two friends seek the fruits of their journey, they encounter hilarious struggles including being chased by Bud’s sister, Trina (Tiffany Haddish). The cast enacts a variety of riveting, unbelievable hidden camera pranks that are woven into the plot of the movie and masterfully execute the art of live pranks in comedy.
This film is not the first movie with live pranks to come out during the pandemic. “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” which was directed by Jason Woliner and starred Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova, was released in October 2020 on Amazon Prime. The two films share a similar style by conducting live pranks and capturing the reactions of unassuming pedestrians.
I even got to listen to Andre speak at a roundtable event. While Andre said that making the film took a lot of hard work and brainpower from the world’s most acclaimed comedians like Tiffany Haddish, the fun the group must have had writing shines through.
“We just brought in the greatest prank minds in the game of prank to come up with content, story and scene ideas. It was a long and winding road, and it didn’t happen overnight,” Andre said in a Zoom roundtable interview with The Hoya.
The film is fast-paced and does its best to blend pranks in with the plot. The appeal of “Bad Trip” is not necessarily the story, but the entertainment that comes from seeing the creative pranks pan out.
The best and biggest prank in the film comes at the end, when Trina crashes a stolen police car into the art gallery where Chris has come to see Maria. This prank was especially daring to film, as the safety of bystanders in the gallery had to be taken into account. The payoff is extremely rewarding for viewers, as the reactions from these unsuspecting victims of the team’s latest shenanigan are priceless.
The hard work and meticulous planning the crew put into the film’s pranks oozes through the movie and can be seen through inventive camera angles, prop design and charisma of the main characters.
One of these scenes that relies on set design is a bar prank where Andre pretends to be super drunk and falls from the scaffolding of the bar into a pile of debris. Everything was strategically planned so that Andre would not get hurt in the process while making the fall look real.
The audience reactions from passersby make the film hysterical, as the victims of the pranks are completely oblivious to the filming process. Andre and another actor in the film, Lil Rey Howery, were bound together in their genital region with a Chinese finger trap. They went into a barbershop and someone pulled out a knife on them, and Andre and Howery ended up having to use their code word to get security in to stop the situation from escalating.
The filming process of “Bad Trip” was dangerous at times. The crew had no idea what to expect in terms of reactions from bystanders. Experience working in live comedy helps when dealing with these unanticipated scenarios, and Andre’s years of practice from “The Eric Andre Show” are seen through his deft handling of unexpected scenarios in this film.
“It took a lot of practice. I’ve been doing these hidden camera pranks since I was twenty probably, so took me a long time to feel comfortable,” Andre said.
The danger that the cast members put themselves in doing these pranks played a large role in production, so the crew always stood by with a code word whenever they felt at risk and needed to halt a prank.
“It is trial by fire. Nothing really prepares you for it until you do it. We did bring [one of the actresses in the film] Michaela [Conlin] to a mall and just have her beat up our director in front of unsuspecting people just to get the feel of it, but really it’s kind of like learning how to swim by just throwing yourself into the water,” Andre said.
Filming for “Bad Trip” initially occurred between October 2017 and December 2018, and the film was supposed to premier in March of 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the release. The fact that the cast and crew had to dedicate more time than intended to the film regarding marketing and distribution because of COVID-19 speaks to Andre’s artistic perseverance.
“Bad Trip” is a fun, lighthearted and spectacular journey that leaves viewers in awe of the talent and devotion of the cast and crew. The film is a great spirit-lifter for anyone dealing with the current struggles of the world, and it can be viewed now only on Netflix.