adele limdebut film of joy rideWill make your eyes cry apart from showing the audience that the ladies know how to party hard.
Written by Cheri Chewpravatdumrong and Teresa Siao, Film Stars Ashley Park, stephanie sue, Sherry Cola, and Sabrina Wu as four friends on a global adventure of self-discovery – but also drugs, sex, and comedy. I expected nothing less from a film whose original title was Joy F**k ClubWhich I find hilarious.
Audrey (Park) is an adoptee growing up in a white family, and Lolo’s (Cola) parents have just arrived from China. Their friendship begins on the playground when Audrey approaches a bully and Lolo punches her in the face.
As adults, one is now an overzealous workaholic lawyer on the verge of a promotion, and the other a slacker artist who creates art from human private parts, looking to sell his pieces to the highest bidder. Audrey is flying to China to close a deal with a big client, and at her going-away party, Lolo suggests she find him right there in China.
As they prepare to leave, Deadeye (Wu), Lolo’s cousin, tags along. The last person to join the group is Audrey’s old college friend and current Chinese television star Cat (Hsu), as she speaks the language fluently.
On one night with this potential client, the girls drink themselves unconscious, play a game of slapstick, drink a shot of thousand-year-old eggs, and vomit everywhere. The things that usually bother a trader did not phase him. What set off alarm bells is that Audrey didn’t look like an ‘authentic’ Asian. To prove this authenticity, the young lawyer needs to present some sort of connection to the legacy, or it’s a no deal. Lolo learns that her friend is looking for her biological mother while there, so she agrees to sign the agreement after meeting her mother. Whoops!
will see a lot joy ride As an X-rated comedy. But at its center is a story of identity and belonging. Audrey is looking for answers because, up to this point, she hasn’t explored what interracial adoption means.
Although her friends don’t quite understand what this means, the group creates space for Audrey to process these new feelings. These are some of the best friends she could ask for, because not only are they supportive of the journey, they constantly check her internalized racism and model minority-ism.
Growing up with white parents, Audrey accepted racism to be assimilated at work. She doesn’t know how to speak her native language (to be fair, many American people don’t), and believes White is right (based on the choices she makes in the train scene).
He is oblivious to the problems this behavior has on his self-worth, and how it is projected onto others. Lolo, Kat, and Dede eventually tire of the antics and let their friend have it, and this is when things finally click for him – but at what cost? joy ride is super racy, but also deeply introspective, and holds its characters accountable for their actions. I laughed at the jokes about vaginal tattoos, and cried at Audrey learning more about her past life. It does well to blend comedy, drama and commentary in a harmonious manner.
In his first outing as a feature director, Lim is given surprising cinematic and creative leeway. The direction and cinematography by Paul Yee allows the audience to connect with these relatable characters.
Filming across Asia can’t be easy, but the directors command each shot with incredible gusto, as a first-time director with no hesitation in his work. She believes in the story and its execution – which is essential for artistry, especially with a multi-million dollar property being shot on international locations.
joy ride is all about the Asian experience, but it has something for everyone. I would have enjoyed seeing more of Audrey’s struggle over finding information about her mother, and I also found parts of the ending to be rushed. But the script is confident, the direction dynamic and the cast sensational. Props to Chewpravatdumrong, Siao and Lim for knowing when to have fun and when to be serious. Balancing is difficult, but they do it effortlessly. What a joy to ride!