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When a business trip takes an unexpected turn, a buttoned-up lawyer teams up with her free-spirited childhood friend, an eccentric cousin, and a soap star on a wild road trip through China in search of her birth mother.
Directed by Adele Lim, co-screenwriter of Crazy Rich Asians and Raya and the Last Dragon, the film counts Seth Rogen as one of the producers of the film (his brand of comedy makes its mark). Ashley Park (Emily in Paris) showcases her versatility as the lead, Audrey. Sherry Cola (Good Trouble) adds a hilarious counterweight as BFF Lolo. Fresh off her Academy Award, Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once) blends comedy and depth as college best friend (and trip translator) Kat. Sabrina Wu (Doogie Kameāloha, M.D.) is memorable as awkward cousin Deadeye.
Joy Ride invites you to jump in and buckle up for an exhilarating adventure with a hilarious group of friends on the trip of their lifetimes.
Audrey (Ashley Park) is sent to China to close a deal, but ends up on a much more personal journey. A successful attorney, you’re expecting her to have it all together, but she’s grappling with her identity and self-esteem as an American who was adopted from China as a baby.
As she sets out to find her biological mother, she’s joined by her fiercely loyal buddy, Lolo (Sherry Cola), who’s determined to live life to the fullest without the constraints of a job-job, college buddy Kat (Hsu), the perfect translator, and eccentric cousin Deadeye. Their performances make the film worth the trip, and they had me laughing uncontrollably and sitting in awe during the film’s shockingly funny scenes. Timing is crucial in comedies, and in Joy Ride, they all nail it.
While it’s difficult to choose a favorite character, Deadeye (Sabrina Wu) was the most memorable for me. As the socially awkward, fun-loving K-Pop fan, she creates hilarious moments through her reactions and attempts to connect with people. Despite her off beat personality, Dead Eye manages to come across as the most grounded of the group.
Set against stunning landscapes with carefully crafted scenes, a testament to Lim’s direction, Joy Ride captures the beauty of the open road and the vast countryside of China, taking us to places few of us have seen. It is so visually captivating that it tempted me to book a trip to China to witness the country firsthand.
While the film is a hard R-rated summer comedy and a “quad squad” road trip movie, it surprises as its delves into the deeper terrain of self-discovery. Through each character, we witness the profound impact a trip can have, the importance of stepping out of comfort zones, embracing new experiences, and opening up to new relationships.
One final tip: Download the soundtrack, as it’s a perfect complement to the film’s vitality (and your own summer road trip), a carefully curated selection of joy and nostalgia that amplifies the emotional impact of the story. You’ll be humming long after the credits roll.
A truly joyous escape watch with uproarious scenes, Joy Ride resonates on a surprisingly deeper levels, reminding us of the transformative power of friendship, laughter, and adventure.
This one’s a buddy watch that’s perfect for summer.
This film is rated R and has plenty of nudity, raunchy jokes, language, and graphic scenes.