"The Hangover meets Sex and the City." That's how director Malcolm D. Lee describes his new comedy Girls Trip. "Women are just as lascivious and sexual as men, and they want to let loose and have fun," he says. "Female empowerment is something that people are craving right now. Black girl magic is real, and everyone is feeling it!"

The ladies in Girls TripThe ladies in Girls Trip

The movie stars the epic quartet of Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall and rising star Tiffany Haddish (The Carmichael Show). And for Pinkett Smith, her character presented a rather specific challenge. "Lisa is certainly less dominant than my characters in the past," she says. "But I took the role because it was a comedy, and I'm always looking to challenge myself. Besides, the film is really just fun! And it's about women taking control of their lives, getting together and having a good old time. Sometimes you just need that, because I think a lot of the time we aren't necessarily given permission to do so."

She especially liked playing a responsible, intelligent woman who lets herself go a bit wild for a weekend, something she thinks all audience members can identify with, whether black or white, male or female. "It's a beautiful thing, giving ourselves the license to let go in that way," she says. "A movie through our lens and our culture still has universal themes that don't make it gender-specific or even colour-specific."

The film may be a wildly energetic comedy, but Pinkett Smith says the underlying message about friendship is what stands out. "As crazy as it can be, the movie has a lot of heart," she says. "And it really shows that when sh*t hits the fan, you've got your girls there that have your back and how important that is in life. You need to have women that understand your challenges and obstacles and can simply be there to support you."

She sees this theme in the way the cast worked together. "We weren't afraid to allow each other to shine," Pinkett Smith says. "We supported each other in that way, especially for Tiffany as a newcomer. We left a lot of room for her to do her own thing. She's so talented and so freaking funny!"

Indeed, Haddish has been praised for stealing the entire movie. "I appreciate it," she laughs, "but you know I'm from South Central, so I don't ever like to be told that I stole anything! Because I'm not a thief, and you can go to jail for that."

Watch the trailer for Girls Trip: