Joy Ride: The Title is Correct!
The raunchy comedies of the aughts are back in full swing, but looking a little different. Instead of focusing on the adventures of cis-gendered, white men, they've become more diverse: expanding the genre and making comedy that is universally hilarious, while also being culturally specific. The new movie Joy Ride is an uproarious and heartfelt addition to the pantheon of great comedy films, with amazing performances, an extremely witty script, and bold direction.
It's So Funny
The story of this movie is quite straightforward, and traditional comedy fare. Audrey (Ashley Park) a woman who was adopted as a child, has to go on a business trip to her homeland of China. She enlists her best friend Lolo (Sherry Cola) to accompany her as her translator, and plans to see her old college roommate Kat (Stephanie Hsu) while there. Lolo brings along her cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), who is obsessed with K-Pop and extremely socially awkward. The business trip quickly goes awry, and the group decides to help Audrey find her birth mother, but even then things continue to go sideways, as the four friends go on a wild adventure.
While this may seem like a trodden down path, writers Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao wisely flesh out these characters to make them more than just traditional comedic archetypes. All four are instantly authentic, and feel like real people, even Deadeye, who falls the most into the "weird loner" stereotype. Director Adele Lim knows when and where to focus the camera to make sure all the jokes land, and that the more raunchy aspects aren't overplayed or dragged out. She navigates the story beautifully, making sure the humours pace is at full throttle. This helps land the third act even more, when it shifts into the dramatic beats of the story. She is able to seamlessly transition from one to the other, while maintaining a consistent voice within the movie, so you don't feel like you're watching two different films.
This film has a truly standout cast. Each of the four leads play wonderfully off of each other and work cohesively as an ensemble. Ashley Park is wonderfully aloof and self centered as Audrey, while also bringing an endearing quality, and wonderful emotion in the final section of the film. Sherry Cola is hysterical as Lolo, being raunchy and sex positive, while also filling her with a ton of heart and love for her best friend. Stephanie Hsu continues to expand her resume of fantastic performances since last year's Oscar nominated turn in Best Picture winner Everything Everywhere All At Once. She is just so fun to watch, and seems like she is genuinely enjoying every character she plays.
Sabrina Wu is perfectly deadpan as Deadeye, but makes the character more than just a gimmick of "weird cousin". They fill the character with an innocence and joy for their friends that is so heartwarming. It is also wonderful to see the non-binary representation in both character and actor. Throughout the film the character switches from using she/her pronouns to they/them pronouns, and their friends treat it perfectly, by the simple act of using their new pronouns without batting an eyelash.
Go See It!
It's always great to watch a movie that was made with so much love and care. Watching Joy Ride you can tell that every person involved really cared a lot to tell this story. The representation of AAPI characters, as well as the conversation that this movie posits about what it means to connect to the countries of your family and ancestors is really touching. It is a conversation that is extremely important, and not showcased enough in Hollywood. Joy Ride is the perfect escapism movie getaway, which you can go to see and just enjoy laughing with these amazing characters for awhile, as you witness their struggles and their bonds. It will have you rolling on the floor laughing, followed by reaching for the tissues.