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JOY RIDE (2023)

Release Date: 07/07/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Comedy. 

Studio: Lionsgate.

"Follows four Chinese-American friends as they bond and discover the truth of what it means to know and love who you are, while they travel through China in search of one of their birth mothers." 


Joy Ride should really be called Raunchy Ride. This comedy follows best friends Audrey (Ashley Park) and Lolo (Sherry Cola) who become childhood friends because they are the only Asian people at their school (Audrey is adopted and lives with her white parents while Lolo’s parents are Chinese). Flash forward to adulthood and Audrey is a high-powered attorney, while Lolo is trying to be an artist. When Audrey is sent to China to close a business deal on behalf of her firm, she brings Lolo along as a translator. They’re joined by Lolo’s awkward and K-pop obsessed cousin, "Deadeye" (Sabrina Wu). 


Once in China, Audrey meets up with her college friend Kat (Stephanie Hsu) who is starring on a hit Chinese television show. The four make an odd group as they attend Audrey’s business meeting to meet her contact Chao (Ronny Chieng). When Chao suggests Audrey bring her mother to an event at the end of the week, it sets the group on a wild goose chase to find Audrey’s birth mother. 


What makes the movie work, are the marvelous performances from the four lead actors. Park perfectly captures Audrey, the over-achieving adopted child who longs to fit in and gain respect from her peers. Cola nails the “IDGAF” attitude of a starving artist, looking to make an impact with sex-positive art. And Wu plays the awkward but endearing "Deadeye" perfectly. But Stephanie Hsu (who you know from the Oscar-winning Everything, Everywhere All At Once) steals the show. She turns a character that could have been one-dimensional into someone that should honestly get her own sequel. 


First time director Adele Lim leans in heavily to the outrageous in Joy Ride. It feels similar to 2017’s Girls Trip with the types of jokes that will either make you squirm in your seat or choke on your popcorn laughing. Lim puts the ladies into a few gut-bustingly hilarious sequences, including a run-in with a drug dealer that forces the group into helping her hide a boatload of drugs and a scenario where they have to pretend to be a K-pop group to get on a plane. One of these particular sequences, involves a sneak peek at a devil tattoo in an inconspicuous spot that made our jaws drop and our stomachs hurt from laughing. Whether or not these moments will be funny or just crude will ultimately depend on your sense of humor. 

There are plenty of things that were overdone for pure shock value and this probably isn’t the type of movie we’d bring our grandmas to. But we like Joy Ride’s celebration of the power of friendships and its exploration of the importance of identity. The amount of laughs will depend on the viewer, but it’s a fun and unpredictable 95 minute ride.

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