Meewella | Critic

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Tag: Stephanie Hsu

QuickView: Joy Ride (2023)

“If you do not know where you come from, how can you know who are?”


Adele Lim’s directorial debut is a cross between Crazy Rich Asians (Lim co-wrote the screenplay) and Bridesmaids, taking the latter’s female-led crude comedy whilst fully embracing the Chinese diaspora. An opening montage compresses the childhood of best friends Audrey and Lolo into a few well-observed minutes about the lives of Asian children growing up in the USA, and Audrey’s additional awkwardness having been adopted from China by (very loving) white parents. Once Audrey is sent to close a deal in China by her boss (a hapless white man determined to be seen as an “ally”), Joy Ride takes on a refreshingly anarchic tone, and its humour — from smart social satire to stupidly chaotic disaster — is frequently laugh-out-loud funny. Like Bridesmaids, there is predictable gross-out humour that feels dated, but there is also surprisingly creative sex comedy with a boldly female perspective. Releasing alongside Barbie this summer, there is an unexpected parallel in that at their core both films are about personal identity — in Joy Ride each of the four friends has tried to forge an identity that is shown to be, in differing ways, an artifice. As these friendships become strained, Joy Ride wants take on a more emotional tone. Unfortunately, like most comedies that seek serious conclusions, there is a hollowness to the manufactured melodrama and we are too distanced from these caricatures for it to land. It might be all about the ride rather than the destination, but in this case it’s a riotous roller-coaster that eventually goes off the rails.


QuickView: Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

“Every rejection, every disappointment has led you to this moment.”

Waymond Wang

Perhaps the most joyful exercise in unleashed creativity since Kung Fu Hustle, the multiverse-bending action comedy Everything Everywhere All At Once deserves to be seen by everyone everywhere. Although the film draws inspiration from all manner of pop culture sources, it is neither derivative nor mere pastiche. Rather, the writer-director duo “Daniels” use these as a common language and as ingredients to produce a unique heady concoction that uses the concept of the multiverse to explore the theme of nihilism and how to counteract it. I am loathe to reveal anything more of the plot which unfolds like a vertiginous roller-coaster ride. Unlike their feature debut Swiss Army Man, the Daniels seem now more confident in the emotional weight of their story rather than continually undercutting its tone with puerile humour. Central to this success is a sublime performance from Michelle Yeoh, a veteran of Hong Kong martial arts cinema who deftly adapts to Everything Everywhere‘s variously comedic, emotional and action beats. Returning cinematographer Larkin Seiple (whose CV blends films like I Just Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore with music videos like Childish Gambino’s This is America) delivers visuals that are as much a kinetic assault on the audience as the fight choreography. It can at times be messy and silly, but Everything Everywhere All At Once is, above all, a very welcome breath of fresh air.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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