Starring: Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, Sabrina Wu, and Ronny Chieng
Director: Adele Lim
The trailers for Joy Ride showed me that I was in store for a comedy along the lines of Bridesmaids, The Hangover, and Girls Trip, so I was expecting laughs (which came often). What I wasn't expecting was the level of heart in this story. Its focus on culture, family, and what it means to belong elevates the material, as do the performances of the central cast. The group dynamic is great, but it's the individual relationships they have within that really shine. Comedy has had a rough go of things recently, so it’s a pleasure to see a film like this put it all together.
A raunchy ride, through and through, with a sincere beating heart, Joy Ride is an absolute goddamn delight and easily one of the funniest movies of the year to date. It doesn’t always navigate the conversation of personal identity in terms of immigration, international adoption, or racism in the most nuanced terms, but apart from that, there’s very little to dislike here. The starring foursome have terrific chemistry, with Sabrina Wu’s Deadeye being a scene-stealing standout, and some of its more emotional moments really pack a punch. It plays out more or less how one would expect, but the journey is 100% worth it.
Joy Ride is, pun intended, one hell of a ride. It made me laugh like most comedies aren’t able to these days, which is to say consistently. Part of what makes it so funny, beyond the sharp and raunchy writing, of course, is the unrelenting commitment from Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu. All four of them had me rolling for the longest time, until the film slows down and takes a turn to tug at the heartstrings as its themes of friendship and cultural identity come to fruition. Suffice to say, I loved this movie.
Joy Ride is a breath of fresh air that uniquely carves its own lane amongst the slew of 21st century R-rated comedies. Director Adele Lim not only roots the story in Asian culture, but also in the reality that women are as raunchy as their male counterparts. Focusing on themes of identity and belonging while simultaneously delivering intelligently dirty humor lets the main foursome (Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, Sabrina Wu) play in a hilarious and heartfelt sandbox. They leave you laughing, crying, and hoping for more uproarious shenanigans with them in the future.
While I can see why some will find Joy Ride hilariously raunchy, I spent my 20s enjoying arguably the heyday of the R-rated comedy. So, everything here feels done before: the athlete cameo and oddball tagalong (The Hangover), the traveling plotline (Eurotrip, Road Trip), the mismatched friends who blame each other for their problems (Superbad), the women’s camaraderie (Bridesmaids, Girls Trip), a “WAP” rap sequence (SNL Digital Shorts), and so on. The only fresh aspect is the Asian dynamic, but it mostly just allows for lazy racial jokes (white people like Friends?! No way!). Maybe I’m just desensitized and have seen too many comedies, but meh…
Joy Ride is a brash, raunchy, and hilarious movie that very much has its own identity. While the film is definitely full of shock value moments and jokes that can be hit or miss, the majority of them land like a slap in the face, so you’ll be laughing your ass off the entire runtime. But where the film shines the most isn’t from its jokes, but from its heart, which comes from the beaming ensemble cast. Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu’s chemistry is exceptional, and I’d totally be down for a sequel with Brownie Tuesday.