If you’ve followed the podcast, then you know that I am a huge Stephanie Hsu fangirl. When I heard she was going to be in a new movie, I was ready to head to the theatres. When I found out that Adele Lim (aka one of the screenwriters for my ultimate comfort movie Crazy Rich Asians) was going to be making her directorial debut with this film, I was all in. And when I got an email from Lionsgate letting me know of an early screening in my area…well, you can imagine how I freaked out.
Joy Ride follows childhood best friends Audrey and Lolo on a business trip to Beijing. Audrey’s law firm is trying to close a business deal and Lolo is coming along as a translator (Audrey was adopted from China by white parents when she was a baby). Along the way, they pick up Lolo’s cousin Deadeye and Audrey’s old college roommate Kat. Things take a turn when Audrey’s deal starts to go south and Lolo jumps in with just a tiny white lie - Audrey is really close with her birth mom and is also visiting her while in Beijing. Thus begins a journey to find Audrey’s birth mom in order to help her land the business deal for her firm (and maybe heal her heart a bit along the way).
From the opening scene of this film, you know it’s going to be a good one. It sets the tone for the entire movie and that tone is absolute chaos (in the best way). There are moments where you think it’s just going to be like any other fun friends’ trip movie and you’re quickly brought back into the chaos. I loved every single second of it.
What starts off as a business trip for Audrey turns into an unplanned (and completely unhinged) road trip for the group. Each character has their own journey to go through throughout the movie and while the situations they find themselves in are wildly outlandish, you still find yourself able to relate to the struggles of each in their own way.
If you’re looking for a raunchy R-rated girls’ trip movie that’s full of heart, this movie hits all the right notes. It’ll have you laughing out loud and pull at your heartstrings…but definitely don’t watch this one with your parent or your child (even if they are a full grown adult, trust me, it'll be awkward).
Joy Ride is Adele Lim’s directorial debut and stars Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu. It premiere at SXSW on March 17, 2023 and hits theatres in the United States on July 7, 2023. Run time is 1 hour and 35 minutes.