(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
To hear Eric Andre list off some of his favorite films — which include Airplane!, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and, more recently, the Safdie Brothers’ Good Time and the Nic Cage-starrer MANDY — is to get a glimpse into the bonkers and brazen cinema the comedian gravitates to. In the spirit of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat and Brüno, as well as Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Andre’s latest prank-filled film Bad Trip feels like a combination of these various styles of bold filmmaking.
In Bad Trip, Andre plays Chris, a guy hopelessly trying to make his way from Florida to New York City with his friend Bud (Lil Rel Howery) to reunite with his high school crush. That they’re being pursued by Bud’s escaped convict sister Trina (Tiffany Haddish), who’s intent on getting her car back, is just one of the many obstacles the two men face on the road. The pranks (and the reactions of the unsuspecting bystanders caught by director Kitao Sakurai) are best left unspoiled. But know they include a very horny gorilla, a NSFW encounter with a Chinese finger-trap, and naked pratfalls aplenty.
Ahead of the movie’s release on Netflix, Andre spoke with Rotten Tomatoes about his favorite films. He admits he had a hard time narrowing them down (“I know you only asked for five and I’m giving you, like, 15, but this is very hard for me”) but that just speaks to his eclectic taste. Where else, after all, could you find Fernando Meirelles and Stanley Kubrick sitting pretty next to Weird Al Yankovic?
When I first saw Borat at 22 years old in the theater, that’s the hardest I ever laughed in a movie theater. Hardest ever. That and Jackass, all of the Jackass movies. That was like, primal, caveman laughter.
The Holy Mountain (1973)
Holy Mountain is the most creative movie I’ve ever seen. It’s directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. It was funded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s company, which is called Apple — not to be confused with Steve Jobs’ Apple. And it’s just this psychedelic masterpiece. I’ve just never seen anything like it. It’s completely insane. I actually had the fortune of getting my Tarot read by the director recently at his apartment in Paris. He’s pushing 90 and he gave me a psychomagic prescription and he read my tarot. It was kind of one of the best moments of my entire life.
City of God (2002)
City of God, I think, is some of the best filmmaking I’ve ever seen. I think the term is docu-narrative, where you cast non-actors — what the Safdie brothers called “street casting,” which is my favorite term. I think it’s like the modern day Battle of Algiers in a weird way, which is also one of the best movies of all time. Its plot isn’t the same. It just feels totally the same.
UHF was the first, like, screwball comedy I ever saw in a theater when I was five years old. And that’s one of my favorite genres. It’s a lost art. They don’t do it anymore. Those movies always got really harsh criticism. But if you go back and watch Airplane! one and two, Naked Gun one through three, and Hot Shots! — if you go back and watch those movies from a filmmaking perspective, they’re like works of art. They belong in the MoMA. Or the Whitney. Every single shot is a gag. To have that many jokes per square inch is a feat. I think those movies were always thrown under the bus by critics, unfairly I think. They age like a fine wine.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
There’s scenes in that movie I can watch every day for the rest of my life. It’s one of those movies. And the special effects — there’s things that Kubrick did in that movie, to this day, that George Lucas and Spielberg are like, “I don’t know how he did that! I don’t know how he did these!” He’s like the greatest David Copperfield. He’s the greatest magician. He’s one of my favorite filmmakers.
Manuel Betancourt for Rotten Tomatoes: How did Bad Trip begin?
Eric Andre: Well it’s been seven and a half years since we first started talking about it. October 2013 is when Bad Grandpa came out. I was on season two of The Eric Andre Show and my agent called me up and he goes, “Hey man, you’re going to go see Bad Grandpa this weekend?” I was like, “Hell yeah.” And he goes, “Dude, I think it’s gonna make like 100 million bucks. It’s, like, testing through the roof.” And then he was like, “You should make one of those movies.”
Still to this day, I don’t know how to write a movie. All I know are jokes and pranks. I’m a joke writer, not a story writer. I didn’t know the importance of story. So we were throwing spaghetti at the wall for years, developing the idea and building it up and bringing it down and building it up. It was like we went to film school without going. We just had to educate ourselves on how to read a story, and then we teamed up with [Bad Grandpa’s director] Jeff Tremaine, and then we just kept cracking away at it. But it was an ongoing process until the very end of editing, and we finished editing the movie 2019. So it was a long and winding road.
RT: What was the most terrifying scene to shoot? I was terrified for you during so many of them.
Andre: Yeah, I mean we shot a lot in Georgia and it’s an open carry state so…
There’s a scene where Rel and I, we have our penises stuck in a Chinese finger trap — you know, as it’s known to happen. And we went into a really “hood” barber shop in Atlanta and this dude took out a knife and chased us, trying to kill us. That was Rel’s not only day one of filming the movie, but the first hidden camera prank he ever filmed.
RT: And he stuck with it!
Andre: Barely! He quit the movie that day. He told me, just in the interview before this, that his kids talked him back into doing the movie. And because he almost got killed, he called Tiffany Haddish later that night to vent, and was like, “Hey, Eric Andre put me in a stupid prank movie and he’s gonna get me killed. This guy took a knife out! I want to quit.” So she starts dying laughing and calls me five minutes later and goes, “You almost got Rel killed?” And I was like, “Yeah.” And she goes, “I wanna be in your movie. I live for that s–t.” So in a weird way, that got us Tiffany in the movie.
Bad Trip is available on Netflix from March 26, 2021.
Thumbnail image: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney, 20th Century Fox (Borat), Courtesy the Everett Collection