Movie Review - Always Be My Maybe
After Wu did that blockbuster rom-com though, it's as if Park, Khan and Wong saw it and decided that they could do a rom-com too. Khan would direct. Park and Wong would co-write and be the actors in it. It might not be as expensive or a box office smash, but it is better in terms of the humor and in terms of the actual relationship depicted on screen. It also oddly deals with similar issues as Crazy Rich Asians, but this film does so in a deeper way.
Ali Wong (Tuca & Bertie and American Housewife) stars as Sasha Tran, a celebrity chef who lives in Los Angeles where she has her own restaurant. She's essentially a crazy rich Asian but not Korean. She's probably more of Vietnamese-descent. She's engaged to a gorgeous and another, crazy rich Asian named Brandon Choi, played by Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-0 and Lost). She's planning her wedding to Brandon, but the wedding gets postponed for a year or so. She was in the midst of opening a new restaurant in her hometown of San Francisco, so she instead heads there to focus on that for a few months or more.
Marcus lives in San Francisco too, so he's able to reconnect with Sasha when she returns to open her restaurant. It's a little awkward, given that he hasn't spoken to Sasha or had any contact with her in about 15 years. The two used to live next door to each other. They grew up together and even dated when they became teenagers. Sasha even was inspired to become a chef, thanks to Marcus' mom. However, they had a fight in 2003 about the direction of their lives and how they feel about certain things, which caused Sasha to walk away from him.
Crazy Rich Asians was all about the two main characters deciding whether or not they were going to be together, but it was all about the wealthy family accepting the non-wealthy person. It was anti-snobbery or it was about people finding value in someone for reasons other than their bank account or materialistic possessions. The focus was on external forces though, forces coming from those outside the core relationship. It was about getting acceptance from the family. It was less about forces from within the core relationship and how the two will meld their different lives and statuses.
Along the way, it provides us with jokes and comedic set-pieces that are funnier than Crazy Rich Asians. It perhaps helps that Park and Wong co-wrote or contributed to the screenplay. At least, they're credited as such. Park and Wong are two really good comedians. Wong in particular has been praised over the past couple of years for her stand-up specials. As such, Park and Wong play really well off each other. They have good chemistry and good comedic timing. Wu and Henry Golding in Crazy Rich Asians had chemistry, but a lot of it was put on Wu's shoulders, whereas Golding simply had to show up and look sexy, mostly without having to do much.
The supporting cast here is pretty spectacular. Crazy Rich Asians had a spectacular, supporting cast too. Chief among them was Awkwafina who stole the movie and possibly the year. Saito who is in his sixties gets to be funny here in a way that he normally hasn't been able to do in his 40-year career. Michelle Buteau who plays Veronica, the pregnant lesbian, and, Vivian Bang who plays Jenny, the dreadlock-wearing, wannabe influencer are both funny, but they never steal the show like Awkwafina did. They do add wonderfully to the comedy, but they never steal focus away from Wong and Park who maintain the spotlight amazingly.
Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug use and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 42 mins.
Available on Netflix.