When I watched the trailer, I knew this was one film I wanted to see. Female friends on a journey have been seen before, but this film looked like it would be crazy fun. I also had seen Sherry Cola in Good Trouble, and I knew that she was an incredibly funny actress. When I got the chance to see the movie, I was excited to see what this cast would do. The film is honestly the best comedy I’ve seen this year, a hilarious comedic trip with raunchy female humor and heartwarming moments of friendship. It is the perfect blend of joy, laughter, and friendship.
Joy Ride is a comedy film directed by Adele Lim in her feature directorial debut and written by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao from a story by Lim, Chevapravatdumrong, and Hsiao. In the film, childhood best friends Audrey (Ashley Park) and Lolo (Sherry Cola) head to China in order for Audrey to sign up a new client for the company she works for. Lolo is heading with her to help translate, as Audrey is adopted and doesn’t speak her birth language. Lolo wants Audrey to find her birth mother, but Audrey is focused on work. They are joined by Lolo’s cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), and Audrey’s college roommate, Kat (Stephanie Hsu). After meeting her client, who values family, Audrey decides to seek out her birth mother, and the four women set out on a journey across China to find her. Along their journey, secrets emerge, and their friendships are tested.
One of the best elements of this film is the perfect blend of comedic moments with the heartwarming story. I won’t give away too many details, I don’t want to spoil this film. But the writers manage to infuse some of the raunchiest and believable comedy scenes into a film about friendship. Neither element overbalances the other. Their friendship is the key element to the plot, but most of the comedy is in their interactions with each other, in who each of them is as a person, and in how they deal with being both women and Asian. Each woman is on a journey of self-discovery and identity. It is how they struggle with identity and how that balances with their friendships that create such a unique film.
The jokes in this film are irreverent, raunchy, and extremely topical. The comedy skewers stereotypes of all kinds. One of the scenes includes Audrey trusting someone because they are white and American, making assumptions based on her experiences. That leads to crazy antics but also brilliant comedic moments. Each character adds a unique aspect to the comedy. The writers also do a brilliant job of highlighting sex and how women can be as raunchy as men. The jokes balance on the edge but never veer over the top. I credit that with the way the film balances the comedy with the friendship. It is one of the best-written comedies I have seen all year.
Part of the success of the comedy is with the actresses themselves. While they are joined by a fantastic cast, it is the four female leads that carry this film. Ashley Park is perfectly cast as Audrey, her character struggling with her identity, especially with not having grown up in an Asian family. This is highlighted in the characters’ drive to succeed. She is perfectly balanced by Sherry Cola playing Lolo, who doesn’t concern herself with how others see her. The pair’s dynamic and chemistry with each other are fantastic. Stephanie Hsu is ridiculously funny as Kat, in love with a great guy who she hasn’t been honest with. Her slightly antagonistic vibe with Sherry Cola’s character adds to the comedy and friendship. Sabrina Wu as Deadeye is not only the comedic scene stealer but also adds richness and warmth to her scenes with Ashley Park. The four actresses are phenomenally good in this movie, but most especially, it is their connection and rich dynamic that makes the film so beautiful and funny.
With most comedy films, I would see one or two flaws, but I was so absorbed in the story and found the comedy so funny I was laughing too hard to find flaws. Unlike most comedies, while there may be predictable moments, this film offers surprises, both in the humor and also in the connections between the four women. If you watch only one comedy this year, watch Joy Ride. I found it the best comedy of the year. It is as much fun as Crazy Rich Asians, with raunchy sexual humor that does not override the heartwarming moments of friendship. There is nothing I didn’t love about this movie. I couldn’t stop laughing even when I remember the film, and I know this is one comedy I would watch multiple times, enjoying it as much as the first watch.
Rating: 5 out of 5 tattoos
From the producers of NEIGHBORS and the co-screenwriter of CRAZY RICH ASIAN, JOY RIDE stars Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Oscar® nominee Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu. The hilarious and unapologetically explicit story of identity and self-discovery centers on four unlikely friends who embark on a once-in-a-lifetime international adventure. When Audrey’s (Ashley Park) business trip to Asia goes sideways, she enlists the aid of Lolo (Sherry Cola), her irreverent, childhood best friend who also happens to be a hot mess; Kat (Stephanie Hsu), her college friend turned Chinese soap star; and Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), Lolo’s eccentric cousin. Their no-holds-barred, epic experience becomes a journey of bonding, friendship, belonging, and wild debauchery that reveals the universal truth of what it means to know and love who you are.
JOY RIDE opens exclusively in theaters on July 7, 2023.
ONE-LINER: Four friends. One trip. No luck.