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The Crack Magazine


Joy Ride

Director: Adele Lim

Stars: Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu, Sherry Cola, Sabrina Wu, Desmond Chiam, Timothy Simons

This raunchy comedy, scripted by comedy writers Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao, is amusing enough, thanks to spirited turns from the lead quartet and jaunty direction from Lim, but it runs out of road two thirds of the way in.

A prologue illustrates how two Chinese American friends met as little girls. Audrey is the adopted daughter of a very liberal white couple. Lolo is the spirited and pugnacious daughter of two Chinese immigrants.

Cut to twenty-five-years later where Audrey (Park) is a thrusting ambitious lawyer working for a predominantly white practice. Cue a scene-stealing turn from Veep’s Timothy Simons as Audrey’s boss Frank, a blowhard with a penchant for bellowing his allyship to his underlings. Lolo (Cola) meanwhile is an underachieving slacker and creator of lurid erotic art.

Frank despatches Audrey is to China to front an important business trip. Lolo, who unlike Audrey, speaks fluent Chinese, goes with her to serve as translator. Lolo’s oddball friend Deadeye (Wu) tags along too, promising they will go their separate ways when they arrive in China so she can hook up with her fellow online K-pop stans.

In Beijing they meet up with mutual friend, the seemingly prim Kat (Hsu from ‘Everything Everywhere, All At Once’), now a big star with leading roles in Chinese historical dramas. Kat is betrothed to the hunky devout Christian, Clarence (Chiam).

An unfortunate incident at a nightclub business meetup means Audrey must track down her birth mother in order to prove how authentically Chinese she is, so the quartet go on the road to find her.

Their quest is beset by various problems, while it becomes apparent that Audrey and Lolo, despite their shared provenance, don’t really have that much in common.

Co-produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, this plays like a road movie take on ‘Bridesmaids’ and like that picture, a great deal of the humour is predicated on the revelation that women have bodily functions and sexual needs too. Still, Hsu’s depiction of the horny, frustrated Kat, unable to seal the deal with her devout boyfriend is a comic highlight, and the film peaks/climaxes in a cross-cutting, operatically rude sex scene. A sequence when the quartet pose as K-Pop stars is very funny too, while suggesting the makers feel far more comfortable satirising the more modish South Korean pop culture than Chinese.

The hitherto infectious comic energy is severely depleted in the third act however, with the obligatory character fallout, and limps home to the inevitable sentimental resolution.

Joy Ride is released 4th August

David Willoughby

Follow David on DWill_Crackfilm