North Texas Daily

SXSW 2023: ‘Joy Ride’ gives raunchy, feminine life to the tired buddy comedy

SXSW 2023: ‘Joy Ride’ gives raunchy, feminine life to the tired buddy comedy

SXSW 2023: ‘Joy Ride’ gives raunchy, feminine life to the tired buddy comedy
March 23
00:57 2023

AUSTIN, Texas — First-time director Adele Lim excitedly makes her way across the red carpet outside of The Paramount Theatre minutes before the world premiere of her directorial debut, “Joy Ride”at South by Southwest world. The “Crazy Rich Asians” writer was vocally ecstatic to have her vision realized at its Austin screening.

“It started with my friends and I coming up with this movie in our living room thinking ‘Who are we even going to get to make this? Who are we even going to get to watch this?’” Lim told the Daily. “The audience and the energy and the vibe at Southwest — nobody appreciates film and comedy quite like the crowd here. So, we could not be more excited to have a world premiere — the first time a public audience is seeing our movie — right here tonight.”

AUSTIN, Texas — The North Texas Daily interviews the makers of 'Joy Ride' at the world premiere at South by Southwest on March 17, 2023. Video shot and edited by Madeleine Moore

“Joy Ride” introduces audiences to the lives of Audrey (Ashley Park), a successful lawyer, and her childhood best friend Lolo (Sherry Cola), an eccentric struggling artist. Audrey, who was adopted by her white parents from China as a baby, is tasked with flying to “the homeland” to close a business deal for her firm. Audrey travels abroad with Lolo and Lolo’s quirky cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), who plan to serve as both her companions and translators.

Later joined by Audrey’s college friend-turned-Chinese soap opera star Kat (Stephanie Hsu), the group soon embarks on a journey to find Audrey’s birth mother. Per classic comedic formula, the trip doesn’t go according to plan as the pack gets stuck in compromising situations that reveal more about each other, and themselves.

From the get-go, “Joy Ride” is jam-packed with comedic chemistry, both on and off-screen. Penned by “Family Guy” veterans Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao, the pair and Lim hilariously explore the meanings of friendship, identity and family.

The threesome’s hilarious vision is only further amplified by their talented cast. Each member finds their own dynamic within the group and uses it to their advantage. Prior to the screening, Chevapravatdumrong spoke with the Daily about how the film’s main foursome added to “Joy Ride”’s final product.

“All of them were improvising things in their auditions that we were just like, ‘Well that should just be in the movie, right?’ and then it did,” Chevapravatdumrong said. “There are definitely things on the screen that they improvised during production as well. They are hilarious. We just basically found the four funniest people and put them in a movie and then we got a better movie.”

Sabrina Wu, Stephanie Hsu, Sherry Cola and Ashley Park speak on a panel following the world premiere of “Joy Ride” on March 17, 2023. Madeleine Moore

Beneath all of the chaos and coarseness, the story still finds a balance in presenting heart-wrenchingly relatable storylines and life events. The film’s cast and crew have an obvious grasp of the heft the main plot presents, and artfully deliver it through a mix of humor and earnestness. The main ensemble all demonstrate a talent for delivering complex emotions and experiences through a more universal language of laughter.

Headed by an Asian female team as one of the first Asian female-led feature comedy ensembles, “Joy Ride” brings a new look and perspective to mainstream comedy movies. A year after “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once,” “Joy Ride” is seemingly continuing SXSW’s success at highlighting Asian feats in film.

Hsiao said while representation was not at the forefront of creators’ minds when crafting the film, she is excited to see such continuous change in the industry.

“When I started writing this movie, we never really thought it was going to get made,” Hsiao told the Daily. “We were just like, ‘Oh, I’m going to write this dumb thing that’s going to be for us,’ but we never really thought it was going to be for anybody else. So that was really exciting. And now, it’s crazy — it’s really great that it feels like times are changing […] and not only for Asian movies. […] Hopefully this will open doors for all kinds of people to be able to share that.”

In addition to cultural inside jokes scattered throughout, the Seth Rogen-produced film also further explores a type of feminine raunchiness typically omitted from male-led buddy comedies. This doesn’t just include sex scenes or allusions to such acts, although the film includes several graphic scenes of the like.

What’s more impactful in “Joy Ride” is how the women talk unabashedly about their own bodies. Similar to aspects of other recent comedies, like “Booksmart,” female film characters are now given their time at the mic stand to make vulgar statements that have only previously been saved for their male counterparts.

Mainly explored through Lolo’s character, audiences and crew alike viewed how these characters can be given so much more freedom and relatability when vocalizing their own thoughts and experiences on heavily censored subjects.

“I just feel so excited for everyone to feel like they can spill out in whatever way, shape or form,” Hsu said at the audience Q&A session after the screening. “I just like the joy to open a whole other realm of possibility of nastiness.”

Overall, the film is a funny, racy, messy journey of self-discovery. By exploring taboo topics of sex and cultural conflicts, “Joy Ride” acts as a sort of coming-of-age flick for adults, filtered through a comedic lens.

While its level of graphicness may not be for everyone, “Joy Ride”’s efforts are certainly making strides for the return of cinematic comedies everywhere.

“Joy Ride” will release in theaters on July 7.

Samantha’s rating: 4/5

Featured Image Sherry Cola is interviewed by media prior to the world premiere of “Joy Ride” at South by Southwest on March, 17, 2023. Madeleine Moore

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Samantha Thornfelt

Samantha Thornfelt

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