Somehow, Netflix’s Bad Trip is both weirder than fiction and too ridiculous to be real — which makes sense, because it isn’t exactly either. Over the course of an hour and a half, best friends Chris (Eric André) and Bud (Lil Rel Howery) get into fights, strip down, and pull an unbelievable number of stunts while traveling 1,000 miles, in a pink car stolen from Bud’s delinquent sister (Tiffany Haddish), to reconnect with an old high school crush. Along the way, a la Borat, Bad Trip brings very real, very innocent people into the fold.
Although Bad Trip tells a fictional story, the movie’s pranks on unsuspecting bystanders were always at the heart of the film. And André, who also produced and co-wrote the comedy, said it was important that those scenes were as real as they could be. “Our whole thing is that there’s not a single fake reaction in the movie,” he told Decider. “We never had people pretend they were in shock or anything. We had, like, an ethos about it. Because even if there’s one fake reaction in the movie, it jeopardizes all the rest of them.”
The movie’s producers told Decider that the crew did take certain safety precautions, particularly during a staged car crash and a faked gorilla attack. Still, André and Howery got into real danger: While filming their first prank, André recalled, someone pulled out a knife on the duo. But the pranks’ victims were all good-natured about the film. “All those guys, even the guy with the knife, was like, ‘Oh my God, you totally got me, man. When does this come out?’” André told USA Today. “Then he was like, ‘You’re just lucky I didn’t bring my gun to work.’”
André has perfected the art of pranks and hidden-camera stunts on his eponymous sketch comedy show, but putting together a film was a new challenge. “The pranks in the movie are narrative. So every prank, no matter how insane it is, it’s always pushing the story forward, he told Esquire. “Whereas the pranks on the Eric Andre Show are just completely absurd and they have no logic.” He enlisted several hidden camera experts to help out, including Dirty Grandpa director Jeff Tremaine, who produced the film, and Nathan for You mastermind Nathan Fielder.
Some of André’s castmates were newer to pranks, but Tremaine said that Haddish was an instant pro. For example, she was able to successfully convince a random man that she was on the run from a prison guard. “I had no idea that she would be so good at the hidden camera game,” he told Decider. “She’s just a natural at taking people for a ride.”
Meanwhile, Howery (understandably) almost quit after he ended up on the wrong side of a knife. After that, in André’s words, “We had to seduce him back.”