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Stephanie Hsu, Sherry Cola, Awkwafina, Ashley Park and Sabrina Wu attend the 'Joy Ride' New York Screening at Metrograph on June 28, 2023 in New York City Image Credit: Getty Images via AFP

In the mood for a riotous girls-trip movie with a gang of unapologetic and fun women in the driver’s seat? Make room for the upcoming kooky comedy ‘Joy Ride’, out in UAE cinemas this Friday.

Filled with lovable leads, this female-fronted romp -- which opened to positive reviews in the United States -- has been described by Slant Magazine as a "win for representation", since it has a strong Asian-American voice and face fueling the narrative. 

Before you embark on this crazy adventure involving a slap fight in a club in China, a drug search on a train, and a night of wicked fun, here’s what you should know about the film …

Stars of 'Joy Ride' embark on a fun adventure
Stars of 'Joy Ride' embark on a fun adventure Image Credit: Supplied

What’s ‘Joy Ride’ about?

Starring Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu and Sabrina Wu, think of this bawdy comedy as that crazy girls’ trip adventure film on the lines of the testosterone-charged blockbuster ‘Hangover’. It's rated 18+ in the UAE cinemas. 

Filled with zany characters in outrageous situations, the fun begins when an Asian American adoptee Audrey Sullivan (Park of ‘Emily In Paris’ fame), embarks on a trip to china along with her longtime best friend Lolo, played by Cola, and her other three eccentric pals. Audrey is on a business trip to China hoping to impress her bosses at work, but her eccentric friends nudges her to locate her birth mother and things go down South from that point. Standup comedian Sabrina Wu plays Lolo’s zany cousin, Deadeye, while Oscar-nominated actress Hsu steps into the role of this glamorous Chinese soap opera star who tags along for the audacious ride. The tale of this quartet’s life-altering trip to China forms the spine of the story. It’s a coming-of-age comedy filled with some crazy twists.

The movie was shot in 34 days in 2021
The movie was shot in 34 days in 2021 Image Credit: Supplied

Who else stars in the film?

‘Joy Ride’ also features a raft of talented actors including Ronny Chieng (‘Crazy Rich Asians’), Lori Tan Chinn (‘Awkwafina is Nora From Queens’), David Denman (‘Greenland’), Annie Mumolo (‘Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar’), Desmond Chiam (‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’), Alexander Hodge (‘Insecure’), and Chris Pang (‘Crazy Rich Asians’).

Who directed ‘Joy Ride’?

This no-holds barred film marks the directorial debut of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ producer Adele Lim. Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao penned the ‘Joy Ride’ script and also serve as producers alongside Lim, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver and Josh Fagen. According to the production notes, the friendship among Lim, Chevapravatdumrong, and Teresa Hsiao inspired them to create ‘Joy Ride’.

TAB 190911 Adele Lim1-1568189235961
This film 'Joy Ride' is Adele Lim's directorial debut. She produced the blockbuster 'Crazy Rich Asians'

“Cherry, Teresa and I would go out to dinner and talk about all our messed-up ridiculous friends … One day, we were cracking ourselves up, thinking that we need to write a movie about this. We don’t know who’s going to want to make this, but it’ll make us happy. So, we would show up to my house every Thursday and break the story, just for the [sake of] it. And we made ourselves laugh non-stop,” said Lim in the production notes. All of them had one mission: Make a film about friends in funny and messy situations.

Where was ‘Joy Ride’ filmed?

‘Joy Ride’ was shot in 34 days in 2021 in Vancouver, Canada, which was a stand-in for China and Seoul, South Korea. According to the set designer Michael Norman Wong, it was challenging to build “Beijing and Seoul in Vancouver”. She had to put together a rural Chinese village and a trendy Korean street in British Columbia.

“Architecturally, there’s nothing similar at all. So, thanks to the location department and everyone working together, we found some locations that were good starting points and I could embellish them from there,” said set designer Michael Norman Wong in the production notes. Even tiniest details like the “plastic colanders” and “Chinese Calendar” were brought in to add authenticity to the sets.

Will ‘Joy Ride’ tell a new Asian American story?

Its makers believe that this film is an “undeniable triumph of the Asian American community” and will present their voices in a mainstream Hollywood feature. Their confidence was bolstered when films that explored Asian American community experiences such as ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ received huge amounts of critical and commercial success. They also believe that their eccentric comedy will help in shattering stereotypes among Asians. “There are so many stereotypes of Asians being polite or following the rules,” says Hsu. “Our four heroes definitely all do questionable things in this movie. It’s awesome to have characters that are funny, lovable, and deeply imperfect, and allow us to follow that journey. Because it’s a comedy, it can hit home in a way that isn’t too heavy-handed and could just be fun.”

The wacky quartet from 'Joy Ride', out in UAE cinemas on July 7
The wacky quartet from 'Joy Ride', out in UAE cinemas on July 7 Image Credit: Supplied

The movie will also help in breaking barriers for Asian American representation and is a good example of having a diverse cast. But it’s not just about smashing stereotypes about ethnicity. “This film, at its core, is about friendship, about belonging, and we just happen to be Asian,” says Sherry Cola. “We’re going on a wild adventure … There’s K-Pop. We’re touching on a lot of universal themes and normalising the fact that we deserve to tell these stories our own way, reclaim our identities, and make fun of ourselves.”

Don’t Miss It!

Joy Ride is out in UAE cinemas on July 7.