Five years after co-writing the immensely successful rom-com "Crazy Rich Asians," Adele Lim makes her feature directorial debut with "Joy Ride." Lim's latest project showcases her knack for storytelling and her commitment to representing diverse narratives.
In this riotous road comedy, Lim delivers a hard-R rated film that doesn't shy away from its raunchy nature but still manages to resonate with its audience. Collaborating with friends Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao, Lim brings to life a story that celebrates friendship in all its messy and complicated glory.
The film stars Ashley Park as Audrey, a high-achieving individual adopted from China by American parents. Audrey shares an unbreakable bond with her childhood friend Lolo (played by Sherry Cola), the only other Asian girl in their predominantly white neighborhood.
As adults, Audrey has become a poised lawyer, while Lolo embraces a carefree lifestyle as a provocative artist creating risqué sculptures in Audrey's backyard.
An Adventure Unleashes Chaos
When Audrey embarks on a business trip to China, Lolo volunteers to accompany her as an interpreter, joined by her eccentric K-pop-loving cousin Deadeye (portrayed by nonbinary actor Sabrina Wu).
Later, Audrey's college roommate Kat (Stephanie Hsu) also joins the adventure. What begins as an exciting vacation soon spirals into chaos as Audrey strives to close a crucial business deal and reluctantly decides to search for her birth mother in China.
The ensuing events only amplify the pandemonium. While "Joy Ride" is not the only R-rated comedy hitting theaters this summer, it stands out for its unapologetic embrace of raunchiness. The film delves headfirst into outrageous situations, featuring bodily fluid mishaps, drug-related antics, and even threesomes with professional basketball players.
The camaraderie between the four leads is palpable, with Stephanie Hsu and Sabrina Wu delivering standout performances. Sherry Cola adds an irresistible tornado of mischief, contrasting well with Ashley Park's more restrained character.
Although "Joy Ride" offers some insightful commentary on Asian-American identity and the struggle for acceptance, its ambitions in this regard are overshadowed by the abundance of nudity and absurd humor. While not every joke lands, the film remains a welcomed addition to the genre, drawing inspiration from female-led comedies like "Bridesmaids" and "Girls Trip." Lim's exploration of deeper themes takes a backseat to the film's relentless pursuit of laughter, occasionally sacrificing substance for pure entertainment.
The emotional climax of "Joy Ride" follows a predictable trajectory, favoring sentimentality over slapstick comedy and relying on well-worn tropes of friendship. However, amidst the barrage of s*x jokes and crude one-liners, the film still manages to resonate with its audience, showcasing a genuine heart beneath its raunchy exterior.
While it may not revolutionize the genre, "Joy Ride" is an enjoyable journey that rewards viewers with laughter and reminds us of the power of true friendship. With its blend of humor and heart, the film earns a solid grade of B.