At The Movies With Josh: Joyride

The late movie critic Roger Ebert once wrote in a review, “I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”

Oddly enough, he said that about the Rob Reiner movie “North” which wasn’t great, but really wasn’t as bad as he described in that paragraph. I do think that exact paragraph, verbatim, fits for the movie “Joy Ride.” And it baffles both my wife and I that it’s in the high 90s on Rotten Tomatoes. We hated it so much (I probably would’ve added a few more “hated” than the Ebert paragraph) that we left after an hour. We couldn’t take any more of the stupidity.

The movie “Girls Trip” got great reviews, and we both thought that wasn’t all that funny, either. And I don’t think films or filmmakers should get a pass just because you can say, “Well, this is showing that Asian women can get just as wild and crazy and raunchy as the guys.”

Okay, but…if Seth Rogen and those guys do stupid comedies they’ll get knocked too (and he’s one of the producers here).

Adele Lim, who wrote the fun movie “Crazy Rich Asians” jumped behind the camera for her script here. The opening segment is actually not half-bad. They use a joke that was first done in a “Kids in the Hall” skit. And although a lot of what they do when the two Asian girls meet in an all-white neighborhood is unrealistic, it’s cute and funny. The film quickly jumps to the two as women in their early 20s, and that’s when it gets so utterly stupid. The main character Audrey (Ashley Park) is a lawyer and her childhood best friend is still Lola (Sherry Cola) [and writing “Lola Sherry Cola” made me think I was transcribing Kinks lyrics]. Now Lola just makes art that involves sex organs. All she does is talk about sex. Within the next 15 minutes, you’re wondering why Audrey would’ve stayed friends with her. We’ve all had that friend in elementary school that at some point, we just naturally drifted apart; or in this case, you would’ve quickly grown tired of her juvenile ways. We’re supposed to laugh at scenes where she’s talking about how interesting all the sounds are that you hear during sex (and at which point, she makes a variety of different sounds with her mouth and hands). That might have been something we would have done with our friends in the playground in 8th grade, and even then, it wouldn’t have been funny. Again, why is this lawyer still hanging around with this dope? That being said, we all also have that one friend that says really raunchy and inappropriate things at times, and we tolerate it because sometimes those things are funny. Also, they’re not doing it 24/7. They might just throw a comment in at your fantasy football draft, or poker game. Yet in this movie, Lola does it when she meets her other best friend, in ways that make absolutely no sense. They’re not funny and they’re so mean-spirited, Audrey would have immediately ended the friendship. Or at least harshly talked to her about why she shared information that was told to her in private. Oh, and just as it made no sense why in continuous “Hangover” movies, that the annoying Zach Galifianakis would still be hanging around with them. In this, it’s a character called “Deadeye” (Sabrina Wu). Lola assures her friend she’s merely joining them for the flight to China. Yet, she’s with them all the time. Why doesn’t Audrey say something? It wouldn’t be hard to say “Hey Deadeye, this trip is for me to meet a client, and so…we can’t have you joining us at the nightclub where we’re meeting him. Go do your thing, and we’ll see ya later.”

I know, then you don’t have a movie. And it would have been better that way, because this isn’t a movie that was worth making. It’s such garbage.

Another idiotic scene involves a drug dealer on a train, and how the women have to hide the drugs in various places of their body. None of that makes sense, and it’s a joke that’s been done so many times before and much better (I remember it being funny with Russell Brand and Jonah Hill in “Get Him to the Greek” in 2010, and the first time I saw it done was a scene in a movie back in the ‘70s when the cops were about to pull someone over, but instead had their sirens going for a different car, but I digress).

Since they all put the cocaine up their butts, for whatever reason, it makes them all want to immediately have sex. This leads to many different scenes, and not a single one funny or believable. Audrey gets together with two guys at once, and doesn’t feel remotely like anything her character would do, no matter what state of arousal she was in. I even thought of a way to make that scene actually funny. Since it’s a basketball team and one of the players doesn’t speak English and the other player kept translating for him – instead of her just getting in bed with both of them at the same time, she could’ve been making out and getting hot and heavy with the one that doesn’t know English, and the camera pans back to the other player standing there, and he starts translating what the guy wants to do to her. That could continue the entire time they’re having sex, with the other guy fully clothed, standing there and translating. That would have been funny.

Audrey goes to Beijing to meet a big financier (Ronny Chieng from The Daily Show, who I usually love seeing in anything [and was fun in “M3gan” last year). This means even more unfunny scenes where he wants her to do a slap fight with him while they’re drinking at a nightclub, and of course she’ll barf all over him, because Adele Lim doesn’t seem to have any original ideas when it comes to screenwriting. That’s made all the more baffling by the fact that Cherry Chevapravatdumrong is one of the co-writers, and she’s done brilliant work on “Family Guy.”

There’s also a story about Audrey not wanting to meet her birth mother in China, but of course, to land this client, she’s going to need to.

Stephanie Hsu, who I was thrilled got an Oscar nomination last year for “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” also plays an idiotic character. Kat was Audrey’s college roommate, and like something stolen out of “Bridesmaids” – she and Lola are now fighting over who is Audrey’s best friend. Kat is a successful Chinese actress, and is engaged to a good looking actor who is very religious and doesn’t believe in premarital sex. That means Kat has to hide her past from him, so of course, the first thing out of Lola’s mouth is about how she was once with two guys and has a huge crazy tattoo around her naughty parts (side note: in just this small group of Asian women, two of them have been with multiple guys at once. I’m guessing 99% of the population hasn’t). Again, not funny and not realistic. There could have been a much more subtle and humorous way Lola snidely says something about Kat’s past.

It’s so baffling that Jennifer Lawrence’s new raunchy comedy (No Hard Feelings) got mixed reviews, and it’s hysterically funny, yet critics were dumb enough to dig this. It’s also a shame, because Ashley Park is an immensely talented theater actress, who as a child fought Leukemia and the wish she got from the Make-a-Wish Foundation was to see a Broadway play, which lead to her high school productions and the career she’s got now. Her performance in this is fine, it’s just a horribly unfunny script. I’ll be anxiously looking forward to see her succeed on the big screen.

Anybody that likes this movie and had a lot of laughs with this…I highly recommend you go back and find some old stand-up routines by Andrew “Dice” Clay. He’s right up your alley.

0 stars, and currently resides as the worst movie I’ve seen this year.

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