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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Alex Reviews "Joy Ride"

Movies are at their best when they elicit genuine, raw emotion. A major factor in that is surprise and cultivating a basis for the unbelievable to occur in a believable way. With that established, Joy Ride is true to its title and an absolute pleasure the entire 95 minutes of run time and beyond, as I am still smiling at the experience of this film.

Three Asian-American women travel to China for a business trip and to meet up with a college friend of noted celebrity in the country before twists and turns throw them into an adventure about belonging, culture, and discovery.

While that may be the most basic and vague description I ever provide in a review, it is because I want you to have the exact experience I did. Unfamiliar with the material and having little expectation for the film, I cannot adequately put into words the extreme level of enjoyment I had with Joy Ride.

Adele Lim crushes her directorial debut so thoroughly that she gets moved to the “I must see everything they make” list and proves that her hot streak of scripts (Crazy Rich Asians, Raya and the Last Dragon) may not be a streak at all, but proof of just how talented she is as a writer, and now director.

It was impressive to see the cast deliver such varying characters yet be so believable that it takes some of the raunchy comedy to remind you that this is a movie and not just friends on an insane trip. Ashley Park (Emily in Paris) nails her role’s balance of being commanding in business yet shockingly disconnected everywhere else. Sherry Cola feels like the most relatable crazy friend I have ever seen in a picture (either you know who that friend is in your crew, or you are that friend). Deadeye could have been an easily lost character between the odd behavior and being Sabrina Wu’s first acting role, but sometimes it is the weird people that make the best glue for a group. Wu presented those extremes masterfully. Stephanie Hsu is a mega star already thanks to Everything Everywhere All at Once, but she lights up every scene she has in an already vibrant movie. I would love another picture or a series of her and Cola’s verbal and physical jousting.

Joy Ride could have become convoluted with every character having such strong dichotomies in personal, unique ways and the complexity of shooting a “location picture” with limited locations by a first-time director. It not only overcomes those hurdles but excels to the point that it is my favorite comedy since The Hangover and top two or three in this century…while being a better overall picture than any comedy needs to come near. I have never had a movie that made my face hurt from laughing, sob with genuine emotion, and still have me wanting to watch it on repeat, but Joy Ride does all of that!

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