I missed this particular film at this year’s SXSW. That was a common theme for me at the festival this year. I had to miss several films due to familial obligations. Still, I must applaud the promotion from Austn’s locally-based PR group for offering many opportunities for me to enjoy this hilarious comedy very early. And when I did, I had an absolute blast with this movie. Now, I understand that the raunchy factor will not appeal to every audience member, but this film is a fun ride for those who can handle it.
The story involves a group of Asian-American friends who travel to China. An ambitious attorney, Audrey (Ashley Park), must make a deal with a Chinese business person to make a partner. Audrey, who lives with close childhood friend Lolo (Sherry Cola), reluctantly agrees to make this business trip with Lolo. To give some background on their friendship, Audrey and Lolo have been close friends for a long time. When they were children, Lolo always had Audrey’s back regarding bullies. While Audrey is more reserved, her best friend has always courageously stood tall and took no guff from anyone.
While this relationship has had its benefits, there have been many times when Audrey felt embarrassed by Lolo’s devil-may-care attitude. So, she feels very hesitant about taking her friend and Lolo’s unusual cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), along for the ride. As one would expect, things go differently than planned as Audrey, Lolo, Deadeye, and Audrey’s college friend Kat (Stephanie Hsu) have an experience they will never forget.
Writer/director Adele Lim and co-writers Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao deliver a raucous comedy that will either offend or entertain. While much humor attempts to land well, the film sometimes relies too much on shock and awe to get audiences’ reactions. At the same time, it is fantastic that the filmmakers take material usually expected from male filmmakers and apply it to female protagonists. This movie unapologetically attempts to subvert the usual, traditional expectations of women, and the film is all the more entertaining because of this approach.
The movie features a great cast of actors, but Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu are the real standouts for the film’s comedy and excitement. As the main protagonist, Audrey, Ashley Park also performs solidly as the most straight-laced and appropriately “vanilla” member of the group. Seeing an Asian-dominated cast shine so brightly and superbly in a type of comedy that typically features straight white males is refreshing.
I realize that this type of raunchy comedy will not appeal to everyone, but Joy Ride should be an absolute blast for those who enjoy this fare. The movie is not only a great comedic film but also honors and celebrates different facets of Asian culture.