Joy Ride Review | Agents of Fandom

‘Joy Ride’ Is a Hilarious and Outrageous International Adventure Filled With Heart

Adele Lim does not hold back in her funny but heartfelt directorial debut.

Raunchy 2000s comedies are my lifeblood. I have rewatched Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Hangover, and Neighbors countless times. Between Joy Ride and No Hard Feelings, the raunchy comedy is making a roaring comeback! Nothing compares to sitting down to watch a movie and laughing so hard that you have tears streaming down your face. Joy Ride, fortunately, achieves in this respect by delivering a hilarious smash hit.

Joy Ride is a love letter to 2000s comedies with a surprisingly heartfelt story about family, friendship, and discovering your identity. Audiences will enjoy the laughs, spirited best friend relationships, and all-star cast.

Joy Ride review: standout cast delivers great laughs in a well written story

Sabrina Wu, Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, and Stephanie Hsu in Joy Ride | Agents of Fandom
Sabrina Wu as Deadeye, Ashley Park as Audrey, Sherry Cola as Lolo, and Stephanie Hsu as Kat in Joy Ride. Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Joy Ride opens with a quick and heartwarming backstory of how Audrey (Ashley Park) and Lolo (Sherry Cola) became best friends. It then jumps to present day and hits the ground running with Audrey and Lolo’s hilarious dialogue and dynamic. It’s very apparent from early in the movie that comedy is the central focus. Both women grew up in a mostly white suburb of Seattle, however, Audrey was adopted by white parents and thus never learned to speak Mandarin or Chinese, whereas Lolo is fluent. This theme carries throughout the film when Audrey goes on a business trip to Beijing and brings Lolo as her interpreter.

Joy Ride is a breath of fresh air. An impressive directorial debut from Adele Lim (screenwriter of Crazy Rich Asians) that does not hold back on the raunchy jokes and outrageous sex scenes. The humor matches what you would expect from a project co-produced by Seth Rogen and co-written by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong (executive producer of Family Guy). Fans of provocative comedy will enjoy the group’s chaotic cocaine and alcohol-fueled adventures as they travel across China.

However, the stellar cast is the highlight of this film. The chemistry between the four main cast members is undeniable—with this group, the audience is treated to funny, quippy dialogue and genuinely heartfelt displays of friendship. Ashley Park, best known for playing Mindy Chen in the hit Netflix show Emily in Paris, shines in Joy Ride. She not only gives a wonderful performance as a comedic actress, but she steals the movie’s most emotional moments, displaying her pain on unparalleled levels.

Oscar-nominee Stephanie Hsu also stands out as Audrey’s Born Again Christian former college roommate, Kat. Hsu is arguably one of the best actresses in Hollywood right now—and after giving excellent performances in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, it’s delightful to see her in a purely comedic role. She had everyone in the theater crying of laughter, and her physical comedy is unmatched. Stephanie Hsu in more funny movies, please!

‘Joy Ride’ centers on an emotional story of friendship and self-discovery

Stephanie Hsu, Sabrina Wu, Ashley Park, and Sherry Cola in Joy Ride | Agents of Fandom
Stephanie Hsu as Kat, Sabrina Wu as Deadeye, Ashley Park as Audrey, and Sherry Cola as Lolo in Joy Ride. Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Aside from the stellar comedy, Joy Ride works so well as a heartwarming and bittersweet story about friendship and identity. The film starts out with some tension between Lolo, Kat, Deadeye, and Audrey. But their journey along the way tells a realistic story of adult friendships and overcoming challenges like jealousy, feeling excluded, and what it means to be a good friend.

Ultimately, Audrey and Lolo’s friendship is at the center of the story and their journey is a treat to witness. They are lifelong best friends and go through their fair share of challenges, discovering whether they can still relate to each other in adulthood and traveling very different paths in life. An overseas adventure serves as the perfect setting as a make-or-break point for their friendship.

As someone in her late 20s struggling with a sense of direction in life while lifelong friends have gone down different paths, Lolo’s struggle to find herself hits home for me. And while the group of four is wonderful, the movie does a great job keeping Audrey and Lolo’s relationship the main focus.

Further, Audrey’s journey of self-discovery pulls at my heartstrings. Along with the prospect of her promotion, she also takes the opportunity while in China to track down her birth mother. Throughout this journey, she makes several shocking discoveries. In her life, she never felt like she belonged anywhere.

She was either “too white” or “too Asian” depending on who she was with—but with her friends’ help, she actively connects with her culture in a way that she never had before. This aspect of the movie is the most delightfully surprising narrative, and the transition between humor and emotion is handled perfectly.

‘Joy Ride’ is an absolute pleasure to watch

Sabrina Wu, Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu, and Sherry Cola featured in a Joy Ride movie poster | Agents of Fandom
L-R: Sabrina Wu, Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu, and Sherry Cola featured in a Joy Ride movie poster. Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Additionally, this film tackles female sexuality and pleasure—specifically Asian American women—in a beautiful and empowering way, rather than fetishizing.

Unfortunately, we’re in an environment where shows like Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk get “review-bombed” because the lead character is not a heterosexual, white man. Thus, I am grateful movies like The Little Mermaid (2023), Bros, and now Joy Ride exist to serve as much-needed representation in mainstream media for people from marginalized communities.

Overall, Joy Ride is a hit and one of the funniest movies in recent years. With quippy, Bridesmaids-esque humor, a dynamic group of friends, a few tears along the way, and even a musical number, what more could you want? Grab your best friend and head to the theater for an hour and half of pure joy.

Joy Ride is now playing exclusively in theaters everywhere. Follow the Agents of Fandom socials for all the latest news and reviews.

Total Score

The Good

  • Funny as hell
  • Almost entirely Asian and Asian American cast
  • Perfectly encapsulates friendships in your late 20s and early 30s
  • A mix of 'The Hangover' and 'Bridesmaids'
  • Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu, Sherry Cola, and Sabrina Wu kill it

The Bad

  • One aspect of the story was a little rushed and I would have loved an extra 15 minutes to flesh it out more
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