Joy Ride

Director: Adele Lim
Starring: Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Sabrina Wu, Stephanie Hsu, Ronny Chieng, Desmond Chiam, Timothy Simons
Distributor: Roadshow Films
Runtime: 95 mins. Reviewed in Jul 2023
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Strong crude sexual humour, coarse language, sex, drug use and nudity

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.

Crazy Rich Asian Women, Let Loose, Raunchy, in China. That should serve as a review – though it needs to be tripled, at least.

The Crazy Rich Asian connection is not fanciful. This film was directed by Adele Lim, a writer on the very popular Crazy Rich Asians. Someone remarked that the plot had some heart – but no brains. Sounds a little harsh, but not inaccurate.

We first meet two young Chinese girls, one adopted by an American family, the other in the US with her Chinese family, growing up in a small town. Being the only two Chinese girls in the town they become friends. Then we see them as adults (though there is a lot of mutual accusation that they have not grown up, accusations not without foundation). Audrey (Park) seems to be an accomplished businesswoman. Lolo (Cola) the dominant one, works in popular art sculptures. When Audrey has to go to China for business, Lolo goes as translator, and they are joined by Deadeye (Wu), who looks that way, and Kat (Hsu), a movie star. Kat and Audrey were best friends at university.

All kinds of things go wrong in China. The friends are stranded, encountering a sports team, sexual encounters, makeshift travelling all over the countryside, having to pose as a musical group . . . And, eventually Audrey finishes up in Korea because Lolo had found documents tracking down Audrey’s birth mother.

The film is not particularly inhibited by sex talk, sex imagery, sex jokes. Subtle it is not. The director has been accused of objectifying males by the female gaze. She has defended herself but it does seem a reasonable charge, given the female eye focus and attention of the camera. She has also been accused of attacking white people. An immediate response is, why not?

As might be expected after the madcap adventures, it does get a little more serious, especially concerning Audrey’s mother and quite a moving scene when she encounters a man in Korea who might have been her stepfather. While everybody does calm down, more or less, there are some reconciliations and, depending on the box office, Joy Ride 2. Not a classy entertainment.

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