In the past, I was that person who found almost all romantic comedies obnoxious, annoyingly predictable, and more often than not, straight up lame. Most of the time it’s the same hammered out formula: they meet, they don’t know if they like each other, a bunch of cute shit happens, one realizes they like the other just a fraction of a second too late, they make a grand gesture, and then they live happily ever after. In recent years, I’ve become what you could call a convert; and no, I don’t mean it in the religious sense. I don’t know what changed (probably the slow cynicism of being a socially awkward, single person in the era of insta-perfect relationships), but I’ve started to find them entertaining, cute, and– dare I say it– great. One of the movies that turned me on to rom-coms was Netflix’s 2018 hit Set It Up, which if you haven’t watched I highly recommend you see it.
This year, Netflix has come out with yet another hilariously wonderful movie, Always Be My Maybe. The movie, directed by Nahnatchka Khan and co-written by Randall Park, Ali Wong, and Michael Golamco, follows two childhood friends Marcus Kim and Sasha Tran played by Park and Wong, respectively.
Ali Wong is probably best known for her two comedy specials on Netflix, Baby Cobra and Hard Knock Wife. For some people, her comedy gets too raunchy and can be off-putting. However Always Be My Maybe, while it’s not super clean (hello, Randall Park’s ass) I think is a good way to get acquainted with her work. Ali’s Sasha is a celebrity chef who moves from city to city, opening hot new restaurants with her developer boyfriend Brandon Choi (Daniel Dae Kim). As Sasha, Ali brings to the table her trademark sass and creates a heroine relatable to so many people today. Sasha’s work is her life and despite breaking up with Brandon, it must go on.
Her work brings her home to San Francisco, where she is reunited with Marcus her childhood best friend and one-time fling. It’s not by chance that they’re brought back together, rather by their other high school friend turned Sasha’s assistant, Veronica (Michelle Bateau), who hires Marcus and his father (James Saito) to work on Sasha’s house.
Marcus is a lovable, kind of dorky, leading man. The opposite of Sasha’s life, he stayed in San Francisco to stay with his dad and their business and has been playing in the same band since high school. Randall Park is truly a gem in this role. Most likely best known for his role as Louis Huang in Fresh Off the Boat and appearing in several small roles in different movies and TV shows, I feel like this movie truly shows him off and I’m so happy to see him as a romantic lead. Hopefully this movie sparks more lead roles for him in films.
In addition to the plot of romance, it explores the differing relationships of Marcus and Sasha with their parents. It was an unexpected addition, but wholly welcome and never felt out of place. The movie also touches on the gentrification of Asian culture, with the juxtaposition of the rise of “Asian fusion cuisine” at Sasha’s restaurants and the authentic Asian food found in their home neighborhood.
And of course, we can’t forget about the comedy aspect of rom-coms. Always Be My Maybe never lacks in the comedy, but at the same time the comedic bits don’t cheapen the more serious moments in the movie. Ali Wong’s comedic style in her writing brings a much needed edge to what could’ve been a super traditional rom-com. The highlight of the movie for me is something teased in the trailer: an appearance by John Wick himself, Keanu Reeves.
If you’re looking for something light-hearted, heart-warming, and hilarious, Always Be My Maybe checks all the boxes. It’s the perfect choice for a night in, so grab some wine and some popcorn and enjoy.
Always Be My Maybe - Available on Netflix now Photo| Property of Netflix