Comedies are the hardest things to pull off. People either laugh or they don’t. Nobody cares if the pace is right, the cinematography is good or the characters have full arcs, etc. because if it isn’t funny, it fails. Always Be My Maybe is a movie I’ve seen hundreds of times in their black, Latin, white and international forms. It’s an often used rom-com formula, two characters grow up, had a crush with each other while also in bad relationships, a famous celebrity is involved and they end up realizing they’re each other’s soulmates. I could’ve just been describing Something About Mary, but none of that matters, because I laughed my ass off so, therefore, to me it’s good.
I admit a shameful part of me wished this movie failed. Why? I can sum it up with a scene that looks like a throwaway but really hit home with me. Ali Wong and Randall Park (I honestly never remembered their character names) are watching an Asian poetry slam and Ali mutters, “I wish we had this growing up.” Yes. Exactly. This awesome comedy came twenty years too late with my generation. I’m jealous. Envious that the new Asian-American kids get all these great Asian diaspora movies, all these Asian hang-out groups, events where Asians are having a great time. Young Asians, our generation gave this to you. I wanted this movie to fail, because I knew if I ended up loving it (which I did), I’d realize too hard my life went so long without it. Everything’s changing for Asian diaspora now and it’s great.
At its core, Always Be My Maybe is part of an artistic renaissance that’s designed to fix the negative and misinformed stereotypes about Asian-Americans. White Hollywood had set us back so badly that the simple portrayal of an Asian pot-smoking, everyday air-condition technician with a cool dad is trailblazing. This is actually a very accurate portrayal of many Asians out there that’s non-existent in American media. Where Crazy Rich Asians served as an ideal catalog for yellow-less America that we can be extremely beautiful, very successful people, Always Be My Maybe gives a more realistic, yet charming plebeian view. It’s what Asian-Americans already knew but were frustrated that the portrayal about us were usually geishas, sidekicks, math nerds, kung fu masters, etc. It’s why the current renaissance is now filling their works with Asians kissing and having sex; Asian-Americans have long been shamed from being romantically interested in one another. So much so, that the thought of another movie with an Asian having to romantically win over a white person is now unapologetically bashed by the current climate. I may have shat on this movie for following a generic romcom formula (and what romcom doesn’t?), but its meticulous eye at providing a positive Asian image that shatters stereotypes is extremely welcoming.
It sucks that Always Be My Maybe is a Netflix exclusive. This is a film worthy of the big screen, its many funny scenes deserving to be experienced and laughed together in a crowded theater. Asian-America would’ve exploded if that’d happened. I have a feeling that the Netflix decision was a result of Hollywood’s refusal to accept it. Conspiracies aside, Ali Wong and Randall Park were the DNA of this movie. Their comedic deliveries are irreplaceable, a movie tailor-made specifically to their skin. I hope to see more comedies made by this duo, because not only are they funny, they get Asian diaspora.
(Aaaaaaaand…here’s an article bashing this movie, showing why white people don’t get us. Enjoy the whitesplaining.)
Top 5 things I love about Always Be My Maybe:
1.) The entire Keanu Reeves segment, especially the restaurant scene. Had me laughing nonstop for ten straight minutes. Good sport of him for being in this movie and playing the douche. “My glasses doesn’t even have lenses.”
2.) The diverse portrayals of both characters’ parents. Randall Park’s character’s best buddy relationship with his dad is very similar to mine with my father. My own dad is not the stereotypical angry Asian dad…he’s more of a laid back buddy dad like the one portrayed in this movie. Thank Ali and Randall for writing the dad this way.
3.) I love watching Asians date Asians, have kiss scenes, have sex scenes. Even though Randall and Ali aren’t supermodels, there’s something so satisfying watching such a normal human act being portrayed in an American movie. It’s funny with Randall’s dad bod.
4.) Randall Park’s rapping. His flow and rated-G lyrics remind me of early Will Smith stuff. Great we got to see his hidden talent.
5.) D’Angelo and other mid-90’s R&B playlists. This script is clearly written by my generation (35-50 age).
Like Asian-American romantic comedies? Please consider giving my novel Asians Don’t Date a chance. Now available on Amazon. Thank you.