Joy Ride (2023)

Joy Ride (2023)


An exhilitaring no-holds barred sex comedy that’s daring in more ways than one



United States of America
English, Korean, Mandarin
Alexander Hodge, Annie Mumolo, Ashley Park
95 min


Seriously, this is the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in a good while (and yes, I’ve seen all the summer blockbusters).

What it's about

Audrey (Ashley Park), an adoptee who grew up with white parents, visits her home country China for the first time, but what starts out as a harmless business trip quickly descends into chaos as Audrey and her friends inadvertently get into some wacky and raunchy misadventures.

The take

True to its name, Joy Ride is a raucous delight that has everything you want out of a road trip comedy and more. There’s love, sex, adventure, and even music, but most of all there’s friendship, the interesting complexities of which are explored against the backdrop of race. There’s something meaningful keeping everything together at the core, and first-time director Adele Lim—helped by a strong script and cast—does an excellent job of holding it down. The film is also just plain funny. There are physical gags and of-the-moment jokes, plus a couple of insider quips made for and by the Asian community. But apart from the hilarity and tenderness, the film also delivers in the visual department: it looks gorgeous, not only because the characters are tourists who embark on a jet-setting adventure, but because of the inspired animation and vibrant editing. 

What stands out

Each scene in Joy Ride is more bonkers than the last, so it’s difficult to pick one that stands out. But even though the musical number is a strong contender, I’d have to pick the big reveal that happens midway through the film. Without spoiling anything, I’m happy to report that the plot twist here is an actual twist—an effectively surprising moment that reveals more layers the more you think about it. It’s not shocking for shock’s sake, nor is it a mere plot device with no actual bearing. Instead, there is a sense it was done with careful thought. It touches on something delicate, political even, which makes Joy Ride all the more impressive: it’s daring in more ways than one.

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