21 Movies Like Joy Ride (2023) (Page 2)

Staff & contributors

Chasing the feel of watching Joy Ride ? Here are the movies we recommend you watch right after.

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. 

, 2023

Set in the quaint city of Burlington, Vermont, Paint is a cute and folksy comedy that has a Wes Anderson-esque charm to it. The characters are dressed in blocked pastels and wooly sweaters, while the protagonist Carl seems stuck in the ‘70s, and not just sartorially, too. He drives a “Vantastic” custom van, swears off cell phones, and manages to incorporate phrases like “far out” in his daily lingo. It all makes for whimsical viewing, but underneath the flair, there’s very little substance holding this picture up. It tells the tale of an aging narcissist who learns the error of his ways when a younger version of himself is hired to aid and eventually replace him. Narratively, it’s familiar and forgettable, and it becomes immediately clear that style is a crutch that the film leans on. It’s funny, at times, thanks to a very likable Wilson and a strong supporting cast (there are occasional laugh-out-loud moments too, like when Carl does the big reveal about his portrait). But ultimately, it’s just too flat to be as special as the art it admires. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Aidan T.K. Baker, Brit McAdams, Ciara Renée, Colin J. Sweeney, Crystal Tweed, Denny Dillon, Elisabeth Henry-Macari, Elizabeth Loyacano, Evander Duck Jr., Jen Smedley, Joel Leffert, Kristin Hensley, Lucy Freyer, Lusia Strus, Lynda Suarez, Michael Pemberton, Michaela Watkins, Noa Graham, Owen Wilson, Paul Kosopod, Rob Figueroa, Ryan Czerwonko, Ryan Gaul, Sarah Baker, Scott Beehner, Stephen Root, Vin Craig, Wendi McLendon-Covey

Director: Brit McAdams

There’s little to like in Hidden Strike, a shoddy action thriller riddled with dodgy CGI, melodramatic performances, and ultra-predictable plotlines. You could even play a drinking game spotting all the action cliches present in the film (take a shot every time the patriotic hero dedicates a killing to his countrymen). Mostly, it’s laughable and complex for all the wrong reasons, but there are rare moments when Chan and Cena’s partnership works. They’re pockets of humor that feel like actual breathers, a respite in a film that’s ultimately tiresome to watch. 

Genre: Action, Action & Adventure, Adventure, Comedy, Thriller

Actor: Amadeus Serafini, Diego Dati, Gong Jun, Hani Adel, Jackie Chan, Jiang Wenli, John Cena, Kefas Brand, Laila Ezz El Arab, Lee Huang, Li Ma, Ma Chunrui, Max Huang, Michael Koltes, Neo Hou, Pilou Asbæk, Rachael Holoway, Rima Zeidan, Tazito Garcia, Temur Mamisashvili, Tim Man, Xu Jia

Director: Scott Waugh

Rating: TV-14

With a boring wedding, attended by a guarded woman and a spontaneous man, starting a series of shared recollections of past heartbreak, Which Brings Me to You has all the elements needed for an early aughts romcom, releasing at a time when Y2K is trending. The original novel’s epistolary format is interestingly translated into flashbacks told in one whole day, with Will and Jane visually popping within the sequences as the two get to know each other through their past heartbreaks. It’s a unique idea, but the execution feels lackluster, with the dialogue and direction that can’t be saved through Lucy Hale’s or Nat Wolff’s efforts. There’s certainly something here about romance being a possible avenue to open up, but Which Brings Me to You doesn’t build the chemistry to get there.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Alexander Hodge, Avery Cole, Britne Oldford, Chase Liefeld, Genevieve Angelson, Jamie McRae, John Gallagher Jr., Laura Kai Chen, Lucy Hale, Marceline Hugot, Michael Mulheren, Mitzi Akaha, Nat Wolff, Reilly Walters, Ward Horton

Director: Peter Hutchings

Rating: PG-13

A movie based on a theme park ride is always going to be a marketing exercise, but what’s remarkable about Haunted Mansion is how uninterested it is in even pretending to be anything more. Amazon, Yankee Candle, CVS, Baskin Robbins, Burger King: you could fill a mall with the list of brands shamelessly name-dropped in the movie. Gallingly, the cast are even forced to do double duty as brand ambassadors during some of the movie’s most determined efforts at poignancy — oof.

Not even an ensemble featuring the comedic-dramatic chops of LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, Owen Wilson, and Chase Dillon (the best of the bunch) can make such naked cash-grabs feel organic. What’s more, though, Haunted Mansion depressingly asks so little of its cast that there aren’t really any opportunities for them to counterbalance these embarrassing moments with anything approaching compelling. Adding to its struggles are the mansion’s sludgy color palette (which renders every scene unremarkable, no matter how moving or spooky it’s supposed to be) and the fact that it somehow feels rushed even at an overlong two hours. Though you can appreciate director Justin Simien’s efforts at elevating the material into something coherent, Haunted Mansion feels as lifeless as the ghosts that fill it.

Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Horror

Actor: Alisa Harris, Amy Parrish, Andrew Morgado, Anthony Burrell, Arielle Prepetit, Ashley John, Ayane Azevedo, Ben Bladon, Bryan McClure, Chad Crumley, Charity Jordan, Charles Black, Chase W. Dillon, Chenise Johnson, Christopher Winchester, Clarence White III, Creek Wilson, Cruz Abelita, D. Jerome Wells, Dan Levy, Danny DeVito, Derrick James Moss, Don Stallings, Edward Zhu, Elisabeth Lagrande, Erika Coleman, Erion Brandon WIlliams, Fedor Steer, Glendon Ray Hobgood, Gralen Bryant Banks, Hasan Minhaj, Hector Machado, Helene Henry, Ian Covell, J.R. Adduci, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto, Jared Simon, Jo Koy, John Curran, Joseph Miller, Julie Nalibov, Kailie Sanders, Kamran Shaikh, Kat Montes, Kathi Callahan, Kay Galvin, Keiko Bell, Kurt Yue, Lakeith Stanfield, Lindsay Lamb, Lorenzo Beronilla, Lumar Christopher Leblanc III, Manuel Perkins, Marcus Otis Hubbard, Marilu Henner, Mike Benitez, Nico Gomez, Owen Wilson, Paul Michael Robertson, Rachel Pitner, Raianna Brown, Rick Andosca, Rosario Dawson, Rowan Joseph, Sebastien Soudais, Steve Zissis, Terence Mathews, Terence Rosemore, Tiffany Haddish, Tony Paone, Tracy Goode, William Calvert, Winona Ryder

Director: Justin Simien

Rating: PG-13

About My Father is clearly intended to be a cringe comedy a la Meet the Parents (it even features Robert De Niro as another grumpy dad), but it stretches the concept of “funny” so thin that the memory of that scene in which a cat pees on the contents of a smashed urn will feel like dizzying comic heights in comparison. The premise — an Italian-American man struggles to win the acceptance of his WASPish in-laws — might have made sense 100 years ago, but today, it strikes as farfetched. Even without that weak foundation, much of About My Father has a shaky grasp on what makes a movie work. The screenplay feels like the product of crudely stitching together several over-manufactured set-pieces, with the result being an almost total lack of fluidity and characters who often contradict themselves.

The film starts out on its worst foot: star–co-writer Sebastian Maniscalco lays the voiceover on thick, while Sebastian’s brash Sicilian father Salvo (De Niro) is so unceasingly negative that it turns a presence that should be great into one that’s only grating. Though it does find something of a footing as a saccharine family drama in its back half, it’s much too little, too late.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Adan James Carrillo, Anders Holm, Brett Dier, David Rasche, Kim Cattrall, Leslie Bibb, Robert De Niro, Sebastian Maniscalco

Director: Laura Terruso

Even before its characters get to Europe, Bawaal sets itself up as a truly ludicrous romantic comedy, completely unmoored from any common sense or internal logic, and with the most cartoonishly awful protagonist at its center. There isn't a single convincing story idea here, from the way Ajay's students learn from and idolize him despite his complete lack of teaching ability, to the way he treats his wife Nisha like dirt after learning she has epilepsy. Movies about scoundrels aren't unwelcome, but it feels as if there hasn't been any thought put into how Ajay views other people and the self-image he so desperately wants to protect—and even less thought seems to have been put into the hilariously shallow ways Ajay "earns" redemption by the end.

But then the characters get to Europe, and Bawaal inexplicably becomes a history lesson about the atrocities of World War II, which are briefly recreated in corny and at times tastelessly done fantasy sequences. The idea that these grown adults who have access to knowledge and pop culture are only now finding out that genocide is bad is nothing short of mind-numbing. Even worse is how Bawaal ignores every difficult and painful truth we've learned and continue to learn from World War II, and reduces so much suffering into a contrived moral lesson about how we should accept each other's flaws and learn to forgive. No matter the efforts of its lead actors or the quality of the production values on display, the film just can't overcome the bad taste it leaves in the mouth.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, History, Romance

Actor: Anjuman Saxena, Janhvi Kapoor, Manoj Pahwa, Mukesh Tiwari, Prateek Pachori, Varun Dhawan

Director: Nitesh Tiwari