Joy Ride, the directorial debut of Adele Lim, the successful writer behind Raya and the Last Dragon and Crazy Rich Asians, is a refreshingly audacious comedy that defies the cautious norms of today’s cancel-culture environment. This bold and unapologetically profane film champions diversity and representation, centering on the friendship of four Asian-American women.
Ashley Park stars as Audrey, a lawyer raised in a predominantly white suburb, who has often felt out of place. Her childhood friend, Lolo (Sherry Cola), a confident, bold artist, has been a constant presence, providing her with a sense of belonging. When Audrey embarks on a business trip to China, Lolo accompanies her to provide Mandarin interpretation. The duo are joined by Lolo’s quirky cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu) and Audrey’s college friend Kat (Stephanie Hsu), rounding out a dynamic quartet.
As they navigate through cultural differences in a foreign business world, their adventure takes a comedic turn. Audrey’s search for her biological parents and their audacious attempt to pass as a K-pop group lead to unpredictable and hilarious situations. Despite the comedy’s occasional stumbles and struggles to tie up some loose ends, it delivers a blend of shocking, raunchy humor and sexy undertones that result in entertaining set pieces and waves of laughter.
The narrative further engages as it delves into Kat’s secret wild past and her relationship with her fiancé, Clarence (Desmond Chiam). The characters’ interactions, individual struggles, and their genuine connection create a backdrop of heart amidst the humor. It is this mixture of hilarity, representation, and insightful commentary on cultural understanding that makes Joy Ride a noteworthy spectacle.
Pole-vaulting fearlessly over lines of political correctness, Joy Ride shatters stereotypes and pushes back against Hollywood’s prudish tendencies. While it’s not consistently hilarious, it shines with intermittent comedic brilliance, whether enjoyed in theaters or streaming platforms. Ultimately, the film measures its success by the joy it allows its audience, and in this regard, it undoubtedly delivers.
IMAGE CREDIT: Lionsgate.