The story of JOY RIDE begins with two little Asian girls, Audrey Sullivan, who was adopted by a white couple, and Lolo Chen, who become best friends in White Hills, a suburb of Seattle. Audrey (Ashley Park) grows up to be quite the over achiever, a very successful lawyer bucking to become partner in her high-brow firm. But to do that, she must first close an important deal with Chao (Ronny Chieng), a Chinese businessman in Beijing.
With Lolo (Sherry Cola) and Lolo’s cousin, Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), in tow, Audrey heads to China to secure her future. Her former college roommate, Kat (Stephanie Hsu), is a famous Chinese actress in Beijing, so she is enlisted as Audrey’s translator.
After a wild night of partying with Chao and a few missteps by Audrey the only way she’s going to be able to finally capture Chao’s business is to show up with her birth mother, whom she doesn’t know, at a birthday party thrown by Chao for his own mother at the end of the week.
Unbeknownst to Audrey, Lolo contacted the agency responsible for Audrey’s adoption. The foursome board a train to find Audrey’s mother and all hell breaks loose. Surviving one disaster after another, these four young women learn the meaning of true friendship.
With a very funny --- and at times very bawdy (not to worry --- you’ve seen worse) --- screenplay by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao, first-time film director Adele Lim has managed to do what many cannot --- serve up a successful comedy. Along the lines of BRIDESMAIDS and ROUGH NIGHT, which I found hilarious, JOY RIDE has more than a few laugh-out-loud moments.
Kat, who has a rather checkered past, is engaged to her luscious co-star, Clarence (Desmond Chiam), who is overtly religious --- and celibate. He has no idea of her long list of past paramours --- or the devil tattoo on her vagina. And when that tattoo is inadvertently exposed in a livestreamed video, chaos ensues, and lives are irrevocably changed.
Park, who is so delightful as Mindy Chen in “Emily in Paris”, lights up the screen. She’s absolutely beautiful and truly funny, possessing great comedic timing. She, Cola, Wu and Hsu make a crazy foursome, each with their own special talents. Wu’s Deadeye is particularly humorous, and also poignant, as she never feels kike she fits in --- anywhere. But, by the end of JOY RIDE, she’s definitely found her place. And Lim has discovered her true
calling --- directing.
Opinion: See It Now!
First-time director Adele Lim --- along with screenwriters Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao --- has given us a raunchy, raucous and ribald movie that is definitely not for everyone. However, a talented quartet of comediennes brings it all to life in JOY RIDE with hearty laughs and one momentously poignant sequence for moviegoers who can handle blue comedy.
We get a brief but hilarious glimpse of how two of the four women grew up together, and then follow them all as adults on a journey that will test their friendship. The end result is that great friends always seem to annoy each other but also love one another to the point that prior blunders are forgiven.
JOY RIDE features Ashley Park --- you’ll recognize her from shows like “Emily in Paris” and “Beef” --- as Audrey, adopted by American parents Joe and Mary Sullivan (David Denman and Annie Mumolo), who ends up on a mission to find her birth mother. The stunning Park is clearly the star of JOY RIDE, but she has a lot of help.
Audrey is accompanied to the Far East by childhood friend Lolo (Sherry Cola), college friend Kat (Stephanie Hsu) and Lolo’s cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu). This foursome could drink anyone under the table, and they prove it frequently. Little things mean a lot in JOY RIDE, like the facial expressions when Lolo introduces the group to her Adonis fiance Clarence (Desmond Chiam).
We are also treated to one of Trevor Noah’s favorite cast members from “The Daily Show”, i.e., Ronny Chieng. He is one of those wags who is hilarious in anything he appears. In JOY RIDE, Chieng’s character, Chao, is a Chinese businessman with whom Audrey must close a deal to be named partner at her law firm.
Lim is an accomplished writer who contributed to two very popular films, the animated RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON (2021) as well as CRAZY RICH ASIANS (2018). Her flair for extracting comic performances from her talented cast assures her future projects as a director.
Jeanne and I have always maintained that comedy is the most difficult genre in which to succeed. JOY RIDE has passed that test, so the obvious question: will there be a JOY RIDE 2?
Opinion: See It Now!