Buckle up, America — it’s time to take a “Joy Ride.”
The long-awaited raunch-com “Joy Ride” made its theatrical debut today, July 7, to a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of publication. Marking Adele Lim’s (“Crazy Rich Asians”) directorial debut, the 92-minute R-rated rollercoaster finds success blending its ensemble cast with lewd humor and lovable heart.
The film follows four unlikely friends brought together by childhood chums Audrey and Lolo — two polar opposites who bonded over being the only Asian girls in school. Audrey (Ashley Park), who was adopted from China by white parents, now works as a uber-successful (albeit painfully sheltered) lawyer; Lolo (Sherry Cola) lives in Audrey’s garage and dreams of making it big as an erotic artist. When Audrey is sent to Beijing to close an important business deal for her firm, Lolo accompanies her as a translator and their outlandish adventures begin.
Along the way, the duo joins forces with Lolo’s K-pop-obsessed cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu) and Audrey’s college-roommate-turned-Chinese-television-star Kat (Stephanie Hsu), rounding out their eclectic quartet. In a chaotic turn of events, Audrey’s professional ambitions are thwarted by a family-focused Chinese executive (Ronny Chieng), and the gang must embark on a crude cross-country road trip to find Audrey’s birth mother.
The film, which represents a huge step for API filmmaking, has been a long time in the making. “[It’s one of] these blockbuster comedies like ‘Girls Trip’ and ‘The Hangover’ and ‘Bridesmaids’ — movies like that — but with faces like this,” Cola explained to Character Media last December, gesturing to herself. “And it’s truly never been done.”
But between all the hijinks and hilarity, the film still manages an adept analysis of identity and belonging. With each promiscuous protagonist undergoing their own journey of self-discovery,
“Joy Ride” is a refreshing exploration of the Asian American story, impacting its actors and audiences alike.
“I got to shoot a film that was the kind I never thought I’d see — and I certainly never thought I’d be a part of: a raunchy and heartfelt comedy that was led by an all-Asian cast and helmed and written by Asian women,” Park said. “Working with so many deeply talented and incredible people … on that project reaffirmed for me that it is empowering to be together. And for that, I’m so grateful.”