Adele Lim’s outstanding directorial debut ‘Joy Ride’ redefines comedy, makes for hysterical watch

Trisha Dasgupta, Senior Life&Arts Reporter

Previously the writer behind  “Crazy Rich Asians,” Adele Lim’s outstandingly outrageous directorial debut “Joy Ride” received an explosive round of applause and laughter from the Paramount Theatre crowd when it premiered at South by Southwest on Friday. 

The film follows Audrey (Ashley Park), an Asian American woman adopted by white parents from China as a baby, as she goes back to China for the first time on a business trip. Accompanied by her childhood best friend Lolo (Sherry Cola), Lolo’s offbeat cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu) and college-roommate-turned-Chinese-television-star Kat (Stephanie Hsu), Audrey has one mission: close this business deal and make partner at the law firm she works at. When her plan goes awry, the group finds themselves on a chaotic trip across the Chinese countryside to find Audrey’s birth mother after nearly 30 years. 

Unabashedly raunchy and seriously funny, “Joy Ride” showcases a primarily Asian and woman cast in a genre typically dominated by white men. Writers Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao achieved a hysterical woman-driven comedy without fetishization, a rare occurrence in western cinema. Creating complex and ridiculous characters that find themselves in outlandish situations, the film turns stereotypes on their head, making for an unapologetically Asian American story that refuses to water down its cast’s cultures and identities for the sake of cheap jokes. 

“Joy Ride” proves to Hollywood that difficult conversations about race and identity don’t need to be secluded within dramas and tragedies. Lim’s brilliant directorial debut shows that these stories can be intensely funny and nuanced at the same time, expanding the realms of what previously defined comedy. 

Packed end to end with witty jokes and uncorny pop culture references, Lim, alongside Chevapravatdumrong and Hsiao, created a ridiculously entertaining story that will have audiences dying for more from this writing team as well as the cast, who all show off their serious comedic skills. 

Wu’s portrayal of Deadeye, an off-putting and anti-social, yet somehow endearing nerd, is a standout and scene-stealing performance from the actor, despite this being their first film. Deadeye provides many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the movie, consistently hysterical in their deadpan deliveries of extremely geeky lines. Hsu also shines bright in her role as Kat, a once promiscuous college student turned good girl, showing off her chops for some incredible physical comedy. Every performance from the main cast demonstrates brilliant comedic timing all throughout the film, with Park and Cola also showcasing superb improv skills. 

A must-watch film, “Joy Ride” will hit theaters in July, giving a fresh take on classic raunchy road trip comedies with a killer cast and clever writing. 

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