What a Joy Ride this film was to watch. This film brings us yet another R-rated comedy following suit after No Hard Feelings. One issue that many movies suffer from in today’s time is exposing all the best content in their marketing. No Hard Feelings suffered from this as all the best jokes were shown in the trailer and there wasn’t much left for the full film. Joy Ride was able to show enough to capture its audience and leave them wanting more and it worked perfectly.
Joy Ride follows Audrey (Ashley Park) who goes on a business trip to China that ends up going sideways. Tagging along with Audrey is childhood best friend Lolo (Sherry Cola), Lolo’s socially awkward cousin, Deadeye (Sabrina Wu) and Audrey’s college friend, Kat (Stephanie Wsu). Together, they help Audrey go on a journey of self discovery that has many wild stops along the way.
Adele Lim brings us Joy Ride in her directional debut and steps away from her usual lighthearted writing with Crazy Rich Asians and Raya and the Last Dragon and gives us the raunchiest film she could possibly create. With a concise 1 hour 36 minute runtime, it delivers a funny, emotional, and engaging story. The pacing for the film fits: Joy Ride always has you on your feet with the jokes they tell and the obscene scenes they show that will leave the audience in shock. It takes risks with its comedy that recent comedy films fail to do. The risks they take also really help this film become something unique, memorable and something that has its own name.
The film’s strong focus on characters drives the narrative, allowing each character to experience a unique story arc within the concise 95-minute runtime. All the characters have an issue that they’re internally dealing with. Luckily, Lim is able to insert serious moments in the film that deal with these issues. These moments provide breathing space in the film, balancing the outrageous explicitness of scenes and jokes. While this film was hilarious and had me laughing almost non-stop, not every joke landed. When they didn’t land, the film had these deep, connecting character moments that helped move the film along.
Joy Ride is able to stand out compared to your usual raunchy sex comedy like American Pie or Superbad. The film’s focal point is the difference between living as an Asian American and being brought up on American culture and living. In its own way, the film puts it as an “Asian-Asian”, being brought up on Asian culture. The film really touches on Audrey denying her Asian heritage and having internal racism for her own background. It has an Asian director/writer and an Asian cast but this is a situation that many people with cultural backgrounds may be dealing with. The film shows in a beautiful, weird but funny way how Aubrey deals with this situation. For this alone, it makes the film worth watching as it’s not just your average raunch-com but a film with a really strong moral.
Joy Ride is by far the funniest film to drop in cinemas this year. Overall, it’s a film worth checking out in cinema or when it releases on streaming depending on your tastes. If you’re a fan of films like Booksmart or The Hangover then this is the perfect watch for you. The year isn’t over with its comedies film yet as we still have Stray and Bottoms to release. In the meanwhile, we can only hope they can keep up the steak of solid R-Rated comedy films.
Joy Ride is in theaters now.