Summer is here and so are some wild comedies, including director Adele Lim’s Joy Ride. The film stars Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu in this over the top, queer, Asian comedy about self-discovery. The film follows childhood besties Audrey and Lolo (Park and Cola) who set off on what is initially a work trip but ultimately turns into an adventure to find Audrey’s birth parents. Joining them are Lolo’s cousin, Deadeye (Wu) and Audrey’s college roommate Kat (Hsu) which only makes the trip even more chaotic in the end.
Too often are women overlooked in comedy, and it is beyond refreshing to see a true and honest film led, written, and directed by women. With Adele Lim leading the way, we get to see four millennial women trying to navigate their lives while also being forced to grow and come to terms with who they are. It’s not a common occurrence that we see film or television that really depicts millennials living life with the same concerns we have ourselves. The beauty of the characters of Joy Ride is that they are not all one-and-the-same and have individual moments to shine as they learn to accept themselves for who they are.
For example, in the film, Audrey is a successful woman who grew up with adopted parents but has no connection to her actual heritage. This becomes the driving force for her to take a leap and address where she comes from and what she wants to do in life. In contrast, her best friend Lolo is proud to be queer and Chinese-American, as well as firm-footed about her passions and views. Through her own journey, we get to see the way Lolo learns to adapt to change while staying true to herself.
What Joy Ride excels in showcasing the way Asians are all drastically different from one another. The film challenges the model minority myth by getting in our faces and shutting down any ideas that there is a set formula for Asians. In the end, every character has their own conflicts that they need to resolve, each of which resemble a large part of who they are. And what pushes the limit of the film even further are elements like queerness, embracing being a woman, and friendships between women and non-binary people.
Not only are women typically overlooked in comedy but they are often not able to embrace themselves the way men are able to in comedy films. Joy Ride by no means is for younger audiences and this allows a group of four queer actresses to come together to portray four characters to their extreme. If it’s intended to be a film of self-discovery, why not have these characters discover themselves in more ways than one? After all, the chaotic adventures they go through together and the realities they come to terms with are equally meaningful.
It’s also worth noting that the comedic timing surrounding moments full of heart and self-discovery are done with perfection. The flow of the film is rarely disrupted and keeps the audience on its toes as we wait for the next outrageous scene. What helps is bringing in a cast that clearly exhibits an off-screen friendship, which we see through Park, Cola, Hsu, and Wu. It’s clear that their chemistry shone through for the entire duration of the film, especially as it displays varying stages of friendship amongst the characters. There is simply no denying how hilarious and memorable the performances were from the cast. When paired with dance sequences, a montage of explicit adults-only moments, and well-timed pop culture references, it makes for a well-rounded film.
Joy Ride is beyond fun to watch as it comes out the gates swinging. Between having a main queer Asian cast and poking fun at various tropes and stereotypes that are associated with these identities, the film makes for a worthwhile watch. Audrey Park, Sherry Cold, Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu are an incredible ensemble whose chemistry allows the jokes and heartfelt moments to flow through us and invoke laughter and tears almost simultaneously. If there was ever a movie that proves we need more women in comedy spaces, it is Joy Ride.
Joy Ride receives 4.5 out of 5 Samosas.
Joy Ride is now playing in theaters.
Runtime: 1h 32m
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