Netflix aren’t short on romcoms or talent. Here’s the latest content to orbit around the average mark.
Sasha Tran (Ali Wong) and Marcus Kim (Randall Park), best mates their entire adolescence, part ways after their first awkward and abrupt sexual encounter. Sixteen years later Sasha, a jet-setting restaurateur, returns to her home town and, getting an air conditioner installed, reunites with Marcus, now working in his dad’s business.
Wong and Park being roundly charming, their gags and one-liners, many of them leveraging off the (sadly uncommon) multifarious Asian cast and Asian-American cultural setting, land about half the time. It is however James Saito as Marcus’ dad Harry who steals every scene he’s in and would do so alone save the very welcome addition of yet another very talented Asian-North American star. More on this later, and only noting the performer’s background because, well, in Wong’s words; “Maybe other people didn’t know but I never forgot that.”
The plotting is unabashedly predictable and we are left in do doubt how figures like Sasha’s feckless fiancée will pan out. Significantly, the familiar story beats do come at unexpected stages, lending the whole thing some unpredictability. The scenes with Marcus’ band are enjoyable while the whole ‘moving on with your life/going back to your roots’ struggle strongly resonates, here reflected in the long-estranged pair. Like Crazy Rich Asians doing well to delve somewhat into the cultural divides between Asian-Americans and Asians living outside of North America, the big screen insight into groups that haven’t always been front and centre in Hollywood is rewarding and, even though it should long since have ceased to be, novel.
Now; Keanu Reeves. Far and above the best thing about this movie and the internet right now, Always Be My Maybe’s release couldn’t have been more ideally timed amidst an onslaught of feel-good Keanu stories reminding us just how nice the universe can be.
Reeves, hilariously tuned into and skewering his dual public personas of the soulful, abjectly kind contemplator (his name literally means ‘cool breeze over the mountains’) and that of his Neo, Wick-esque fight-ready machismo, his extended cameo is an absolute delight. Blending the two as he seamlessly transforms from an at least outwardly kind figure into a combative force, Reeves asking for a dish that plays with the concept of time and then weeping as the cries of the cow he is eating are played to him over headphones is pure, comedy, gold.
Better for his presence, Always Be My Maybe won’t join the pantheon of romcom greats but, more memorable than very many, is an ideal flick for an easy watch.
Always Be My Maybe is now streaming on Netflix