Directed by: Adele Lim
Distributed by: Lionsgate Films
Written by Maria Athayde
“Joy Ride,” Adele Lim’s feature directorial debut, is the type of entertainment that we’ve been missing from cinemas and a much-needed break from rehashing existing IP, superheroes, and 100 million-dollar-plus budgets. A film with a lot of heart “Joy Ride” takes on familiar raunchy comedy tropes but centers them from a more female perspective resulting in some laugh-out-loud hijinks that I hadn’t personally experienced in the cinemas in many years. While there is nothing terribly innovative going on behind the camera there is something to be said about a director that can get the best out of their actors and this is exactly what happens here. It is the chemistry among the four leads that makes everything we see on-screen work.
Our story starts with a flashback of Audrey’s (Ashley Park) adoptive parents approaching Lolo’s (Sherry Cola) parents in a playground in White Hills, Seattle. As two of the only Chinese American children in their neighborhood Audrey and Lolo become fast friends. Years later, Audrey, now a lawyer, trying to become a partner at her law firm, and Lolo a sex-positive artist, travel to China so Audrey can close a deal with a Chinese businessman (Ronny Chieng). In China, Lolo’s K-Pop obsessed cousin “Deadeye” (Sabrina Wu) and Audrey’s college roommate Kat (Stephanie Hsu) join in the trip as Audrey tries to reconnect with her birth mother in order to close the business deal.
This setup is what drives the story forward as our characters and Audrey, in particular, embark on a journey of self-discovery and to reconnect with her roots. While I won’t spoil any of the hilarious and frenetic moments that ensue, the comedic bits in this movie are somewhat of a foil for a much deeper story. While I couldn’t contain my laughter at various moments, what I found myself really appreciating was the friendship among these characters. The chemistry between Park, Cola, Wu, and Hsu is undeniable and you feel for them when the third act conflict occurs.
In the end, the way “Joy Ride” was able to portray the love that exists among friends was my favorite part of the journey. I was impressed with how Lim managed to balance comedy-set pieces with a whole lot of heart. I came into this movie just for the laughs but walked away with a deeper appreciation for the friendships I have in my own life.
“Joy Ride” Trailer