May 30, 2019

SCREEN | 93 'Til – You'll 'Always Be My Maybe' on Netflix

"I missed your taste."
Ali Wong Randall Park | Netflix Always Be My Maybe

There's a specificity to Always Be My Maybe, written and produced by Asian-American comedians and longtime real-life friends Ali Wong and Randall Park, that makes the romantic comedy so refreshingly charming. Clearly influenced by the pair's own experiences, its Asian quality isn't really essential to its humour but enhanced by it thanks to the duo's natural chemistry.

Directed by Fresh Off the Boat showrunner Nahnatchka Khan and set in San Francisco—but filmed in Vancouver, of course—Maybe takes many of its cues from throwback Bay Area hip-hop to quickly establish the film's mood and feel. Wong plays a celebrity chef, Sasha, and Park an aimless stoner musician/repairman, Marcus, who still lives and works with his father. The contrast in their lives after being childhood best friends is used to mine some easy but welcome laughs.

The rest of the cast is fleshed out other comedic contemporaries—stand-up Michelle Buteau is aces as Sasha's sidekick—but highlighted and enhanced by the likes of Daniel Dae Kim and a wild turn by Keanu Reeves both riffing on the stereotypical bad rich boyfriend and crazy new lover archetypes. Veteran actor James Saito is another particular standout as Marcus' offbeat blue-collar father.

Ali Wong Randall Park | Netflix Always Be My Maybe

Wong, Park, and Michael Golamco's breezy script leaves a lot of room for the central performances to carry the focus of the film forward. There's not too much to the story with the usual fast setup to establish our pair's history, split them up, then reacquaint them before dialling up any rekindled romance and tension. Khan's direction is fairly basic with a bright, standard quality sheen.

Maybe makes a solid counterpoint to the opulence and international quality of Crazy Rich Asians with a much smaller, more personal story about Asian-American families that could really be about any first-generation Americans. Once the setup is established and we start to follow Sasha and Marcus as adult friends, their antics escalate the humour in a hysterical fashion.

Wong and Park make Always Be My Maybe more than the standard rom-com fare with their sparkling chemistry. Their Chinese-Vietnamese-Korean-American cultural backgrounds only further enhance and heighten the film's heartfelt appeal with an effortless charm. It's a fine twist on the formulaic romantic comedy genre while still very much adhering to its conventions.

Always Be My Maybe is available to stream on Netflix.

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