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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'Joy Ride' Review: Raunchy Travel Plans With Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu & More

Sabrina Wu, Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu and Sherry Cola sitting in an animal carriage

Okay, get in losers, we're going for a wild ride. Director Adele Lim holds the keys to jets, trains and automobiles in her feature film debut Joy Ride, a somewhat raunchy comedy about friendship and a sense of belonging that doesn't all fit in only one country, or continent for that matter. We begin our travel with Audrey (Ashley Park), a lawyer who was adopted from China as a child by an American couple, as she's setting out to fly to China for business, hoping to secure a promotion if she can close a deal there. Tagging along are Audrey's childhood friend, artist and waiter Lolo (Sherry Cola) and her cousin, a K-pop superfan and socially awkward ''Deadeye'' (Sabrina Wu). Arriving in China, they link up with Kat (Stephanie Hsu), Audrey's friend from college who's now a successful actor. The group's journey then involves parties, adoption agencies, drugs and unwanted viral videos, among other gags.

Since we're talking about a good ol' comedy picture here, we might as well relieve your anxiety by saying that the film's humour manages to meet the standards rather often in multiple ways. Screenwriters Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao serve believable banter for the established friendships, memorable moments of physical comedy and a few sharp callbacks that are absolutely essential for these types of comedies to work for an entire length of a feature.

It's more so in the story department where they and Lim are bafflingly off-track as one of Joy Ride's selling points is that it's something fresh in the genre, but most likely somewhere along the development process, they've ventured out to include the worst parts of generic comedies that starred poorly written middle-aged guys instead. There are conflicts and situations that ring false because they are a carbon copy of already shallow writing and set pieces. That's a shame since the cast well and truly offers the filmmakers a chance to create their own path.

Hey, speaking of them, the main cast just so happens to be the very thing that you'll remember afterwards. Filmmaking flair—which you don't find much of here beyond Beverley Huynh's costume design—is what can make your comedy stand out, but all you really need for a good time is jokes and comedy that's isn't lazy (check) and actors that have a good dynamic while delivering that material (check). Park does get to display some dramatic chops in the second half, which she does admirably, though it is completely outshined by the lively and hilarious appeal that the quartet has as a whole. Both the characters and actors are a charming bunch that you do in fact want to have fun and hang out with for 90 minutes. Sure, maybe you don't want to be a drug mule, but other than that, it's quite tempting to tag along.

Smileys: Performance by a cast, humour

Frowneys: Originality

Down with the devil or down on the devil?


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