Joy Ride

Think of the hijinks in Crazy Rich Asians, Bridesmaids and The Hangover and you go some way to understanding why Joy Ride will be a fan favourite. There are laughs, silliness and good times aplenty.

As five-year-olds, Audrey and Lolo meet by chance in 1998 at a New York park. Born in Asia, Audrey – who only speaks English – was adopted by her white American parents and has never shown an interest in her birth mother. Of Asian heritage, Lolo was born in the United States. Audrey (Ashley Park) has forged a successful career as a lawyer, while Lolo (Sherry Cola) is a struggling, left of centre artist who lives in Audrey’s garage. Audrey gets her opportunity to make partner at her law firm if she can close a deal during a four-day business trip to China.

Along for the ride are Lolo and Lolo’s eccentric cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), whose only friends are online. To act as translator, Audrey also hooks up with an old college friend, now a successful actor, Kat (Stephanie Hsu). After dating for three years, Kat is engaged to a fellow actor and God-fearing heartthrob Clarence (Desmond Chiam). She has agreed not to sleep with him until they are married. Little does he know about her notorious past. When Audrey’s client makes it clear that he can’t do business with anyone until they know where they come from, she sets about trying to track down her birth mum.

Over the top antics are the lifeblood of Joy Ride, which lives up to its title. Among noteworthy moments are the quartet sampling substances and getting down and dirty with members of the Chinese basketball team. Another standout is when they attempt to sing their way onto an international flight.

Joy Ride marks the feature directorial debut of Crazy Rich Asians writer Adele Lim, from a screenplay by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao. The pair wrote for the TV series Family Guy.

Sherry Cola has a ball with Lolo’s exuberant attitude.  Ashley Park does a fine job in transitioning Audrey from entitled to respecting her past. Sabrina Wu has breakout moments as Deadeye, who craves meaningful connection. Stephanie Hsu invests Kat with a good girl/bad girl vibe, complete with a questionable tattoo that goes viral.

Joy Ride is about friendship and mayhem, not to overlook warmth and family. Its irreverence is endearing.

Alex First

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