I hope you read the title to the tune of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” as I do every-single-time. The title itself brings about a sense of humour and is befitting of the romcom attached to it. Written by the comedic genius of Ali Wong (Tuca & Bertie, Ali Wong: Baby Cobra), Randall Park (Long Shot, Fresh Off the Boat, Aquaman) and Michael Golamco (Grimm, Akira to be released 2021) Always Be My Maybe follows the love story of Marcus Kim (Randall Park) and Sasha Tran (Ali Wong), two childhood friends who reconnect after a 15 year separation. Sasha has become a high achieving celebrity chef and restaurant owner who moves back to her home town to open a new venue, and get some space after separating from her fiancé. Marcus, on the other hand, is still living at home and working for his dad as an electrician, arguably still learning how to live in world without his mother who passed some 15 years ago. Aside from being heavily advertised on Netflix, the home of this movie, it has also gained some traction due to the scenes floating around the internet featuring special guest Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, John Wick 1, 2 & 3) who stars as himself. He is funny, occasionally a little silly for me, but has been a hit with audiences with the film sitting at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes (as of the 16th of June 2019). Reeves is not the only reason the ratings for this film are so high, the writing is great, the jokes hit the mark and there is an overall sentimentality in the characters that are created; I cared about them, I wanted the best for them, they were believable; director Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off the Boat, American Dad) has done well to produce this as his debut feature film.
There is a natural chemistry between these two actors that makes their friendship in the film so believable, due largely to their nearly two decade long friendship outside of the film. In interviews Wong is passionate and excited about the project and those she gets to work with in it and Park gets to shine in song, a throw back to his younger band days. Unlike more recent adult rom-coms, there is an authenticity to the characters created and the situations they face. There is the high-achieving goal orientated Sasha who isn’t looking for a prince charming and isn’t being asked to choose between work and love but instead is simply seeking a partner to share her achievements with and support her and her ambitions. And there is Marcus who needs someone to remind him that he is capable, life is good and it’s ok to live it even after you’ve lost a loved one. In their bid to create their version of ‘When Harry Met Sally’, as quoted by Wong, they have nailed it with real messages, real characters, enjoyable storylines and just an all round entertaining film.
Complete with a swag of wonderful actors, including James Saito (Altered Carbon, Eli Stone), Michelle Buteau (Isn’t it Romantic, The Tick), Karan Soni (Deadpool, Miracle Workers), Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-O, Lost) and Susan Park (Fargo, Fresh Off the Boat) there is so much to love about this movie. There is a clear challenging of gender stereotypes and diversity in the writers/directors/lead actors, an important achievement at a time when the audience is looking for greater diversity in the stories being told and those telling them. It was laugh-out-loud funny but equally sentimental, not to mention the music in the movie which included a rap written by Park for Reeves. It is the movie I didn’t know I wanted or needed but I’m glad I have it, it even left me a little misty eyed at the end.
A very happy four birds from Erin.
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