July 7, 2023 / Cineplex Pictures
Starring: Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, Sabrina Wu, Ronny Chieng, Desmond Chiam, Alexander Hodge, Chris Pang
Directed By: Adele Lim
Four unlikely friends embark on a once-in-a-lifetime international adventure.
When Audrey's (Ashley Park) business trip to Asia goes sideways, she enlists the aid of Lolo (Sherry Cola), her irreverent, childhood best friend who also happens to be a hot mess; Kat (Stephanie Hsu), her college friend turned Chinese soap star; and Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), Lolo's eccentric cousin.
Their no-holds-barred, epic experience becomes a journey of bonding, friendship, belonging, and wild debauchery that reveals the universal truth of what it means to know and love who you are.
Written By Darren
Rating 4 out of 5
Joy Ride is a laugh a minute experience thanks to the wonderful lead performances of Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu, Sherry Cola and Sabrina Wu, that when combined with director Adele Lim’s emotionally resonant story and championing of Asian representation, resulting in one of the funniest films of the year to date!
Adele Lim made waves in Hollywood in recent years after penning the script for Crazy Rich Asians and Raya and the Last Dragon, but for her latest film she is making her directorial debut. Once again highlighting Asian stories, Lim has crafted a truly brilliant R rated comedy that has all the outrageous and offensive moments that audiences want to see with a R rated comedy, while simultaneously telling a beautiful story about these four young Asian women that the film follows. Never for a second playing it safe, the film takes audiences on a wild, heartfelt, and most importantly, hilarious ride that is certain to be a hit with audiences when it hits the big screen this week.
Hoping to be promoted to partner at her law firm, Audrey heads on a business trip to China to secure a high net worth client. However, the deal does not go as planned, forcing Audrey and her friends to seek out her birth mother to save the deal, setting them on a journey across China as their friendship is tested with every obstacle that confronts them.
As a R rated comedy, Joy Ride knows exactly what it is doing. Never for a second shying away from truly outrageous and gross out moments, the film comfortably crosses the line to be inappropriate. At the same time, it never crosses the line so much that the film becomes offensive, instead living in that happy medium that creates wildly hilarious moments that guarantees maximum laughter from the audience. It has all the hallmarks of a R rated comedy: drugs, drinking, and one of the wildest sex scenes since Sausage Party, ensuring that the film feels familiar in its comedic style. Without a question, the standout comedy moments of the film are the outlandish sex scene that will leave you dying of laughter, and the K-pop scene that is teased in the trailer with its raunchy song lyrics and big finale that will have audiences simultaneously stunned and laughing. Though, at the same time, the film does a wonderful job representing Asian characters on screen, their family and cultural dynamics, and showcasing their truth rather than the perceived Hollywood notion of such characters we have seen for far too long. There are lots of culturally targeted jokes about Asian perceptions that land perfectly, while Adele Lim’s story revolving around friendship, heritage, family and acceptance rises above the many gross out comedic moments. It is the beating heart of the film, so while there are some truly outrageous moments, the emotional undercurrent sneaks up on you and leaves a lasting impact on the audience long after the credits have finished rolling.
As funny as the film is, it would not work without its incredibly talented leading cast of Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu, Sherry Cola and Sabrina Wu. They have a wonderful comedic banter that has them at each other’s throats throughout the film as their trip to find Audrey’s birth mother goes off the rails, while crafting a deep friendship that you believe within seconds. It helps build the emotional core of the film and allows the messaging of the film to take over in the final act and tug on the audience’s heart strings. Individually speaking, Park is great in the lead role of Audrey, making her mark as a leading lady after a supporting role on Netflix’s Emily in Paris. She has a bubbly personality that instantly lights up the screen, while juggling Adurey’s internal emotions that creates a relatable lead character. Cola is a lot of fun as Adurey’s best friend Lolo, constantly pushing the envelope with humour to great comedic effect. Wu channels their inner Melissa McCarthy to be the wacky character that has the most outrageous lines and situations in the film, guaranteeing a laugh whenever they are on camera. But it is Hsu who steals the film. It’s hard to imagine that Hsu was just an Academy Award nominee with Everything Everywhere All At Once and delivering such a beautiful performance, and switching to this unhinged, crude and wildly entertaining turn as Kat, Audrey’s best friend from college. Going from zero to one hundred within seconds of appearing on screen, Hsu delivers the funniest moments of the film, with both physical comedy and her brilliant comedic timing, that will have your jaw hitting the floor as your laughter reaches the loudest volume humanly possible! At the same time, Hsu brings an emotional vulnerability to Kat, ensuring that she is not merely a comedic gag but a fully fleshed out character that you can’t help but fall in love with. If it wasn’t clear from her performance in Everything Everywhere All At Once, Hsu’s performance here solidifies as a bona fide star!
Between Joy Ride and No Hard Feelings, R rated comedies are having a resurgence this summer as audiences are once again treated to raunchy films that tests the audience's limits while packing a secret dose of heart that results in a truly crowd pleasing experience. While it’s not a film you want to take your family to as it fully utilizes its R rating with some truly outrageous moments, Joy Ride soars thanks to its great lead cast that uses Stephanie Hsu’s performance as and Adele Lim’s beautiful story of friendship , acceptance and heritage as its secret weapons, that is the perfect summer film to catch for the next girls night out!