top of page
  • Gareth Crook

Joy Ride (2023) - 5/10

You can tell a lot about a film by the music played over the production logos in the intro. Serious film, silence. Blockbuster, something ominous perhaps. Joy Ride is neither serious or expecting to be anything other than bubblegum comedy, hence the jaunty score. Or is it? It’s 1998 in idyllic white America and normally I’d be fearful of some pastiche fluff for the next 90 minutes, but as we’re introduced to preschool Lolo and Audrey, it’s clear this is going to push some buttons. Growing up they take the sort of shit you’d expect from American school kids, but this only solidifies their friendship and their resolve. Delivering us present day where Audrey (Ashley Park) is a high flyer still dealing with passive racism mixed with a big dollop of patriarchal claptrap. She’s headed to Beijing for an “Important professional” work trip and she’s bringing the chaotic artist best friend Lolo (Sherry Cola) with her. Cue some mild hilarity. This feels like it’d hit the mark if you spend most of your time on TikTok, but it wears thin fast. It’s pretty much a load of sex jokes from the obsessed Lolo, wrapped around Audrey’s slow revealing desire to find her birth mother and to say it struggles is an understatement. Add Kat (Stephanie Hsu) a TV star pretending on screen and off and the K-Pop obsessed Deadeye (Sabrina Wu) and you’ve got a film that will really test your patience. The business men Audrey’s in town to meet are as batshit as the plot that delivers them to a club where everyone gets smashed. That’s the level. In order to seal the deal. Audrey must prove that she’s not just “another typical American” and that she does have strong Chinese connections. Simple enough, but only if you don’t get entangled with drug dealers and a cast of barely introduced characters that make little sense and act pretty badly. This is going to score low isn’t it. Well… Granted it’s not high brow drama, but the core cast all do their jobs really well. I mean it’s a crap film, but it’s positive both in its delivery and oddly in a convoluted way, it’s message. If the humour was funnier and the script less interested in dumb farce, there’d be something interesting about Joy Ride. So if you can look past that, this does occasionally hit the mark… and when it does, you’ve got a nice take on the friends helping you through life moral journey. There’s a lot about this film I hate, but I don’t it.



bottom of page