Synopsis: Follows four Asian-American friends as they bond and discover the truth of what it means to know and love who you are while they travel through Asia searching for one of their birth mothers.
Director: Adele Lim
Stars: Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, Sabrina Wu
Years ago, Adele Lim was on the writing team for a little movie you may have heard of, Crazy Rich Asians. That tiny movie made over $230 million at the box office.
After a very impressive list of writing credits, Disney knocked on her door to write the screenplay for Raya and the Last Dragon, but her directorial debut comes with the new film Joy Ride.
In Joy Ride, we meet Audrey and Lolo, two young Chinese American girls. They become fast friends and, as a result, besties over the years. Audrey (Ashley Park) is extremely focused on work. Her life of accumulating academic awards has led to a prominent role in a law firm. Lolo (Sherry Cola) has taken a different route as she is more of a free spirit.
Audrey is up for a big promotion, but first, they must go to China to close a deal. Lolo decides she will go and help Audrey as her translator. Audrey was adopted by a white family that does not speak Mandarin or Cantonese. Lolo’s friend Deadeye (Sabrina Wu) joins the group, and once they go to China, Audrey is reunited with her old friend Kat (Stephanie Hsu), a successful actor. Our foursome is now complete, and hilarity ensues.
They are all out one night with Audrey’s client Chao (Ronnie Chieng). He asks Audrey about her Chinese heritage and impresses upon her that family is very important. To close the deal, he wants to meet her mother. He has the illusion that Audrey is close with her birth mother, while the truth is they have never met. This then sends the quartet on a quest to find Audrey’s biological mother.
En route, they encounter many interesting characters, including a drug smuggler (Meredith Hagner), a basketball team full of handsome men who get the ladies’ attention and Deadeye’s cousin who likes to cheat at cards.
Joy Ride is a fun movie. Comparisons to The Hangover, Bridesmaids and Girls Trip can be made. However, this movie still carves out its own niche — an all-female, predominantly Asian cast in an R-Rated comedy.
The film has funny moments but also some serious ones. Audrey is trying to understand where she fits in, and her arc is touching. The friendship displayed on the screen is wonderful to witness; the women also explore their sexuality and desires in a very comedic way.
This movie, which isn’t for children, has some very funny moments.
In her directorial debut, Adele Kim has another hit on her hands with an extremely entertaining film.