Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Screenwriters: Michael Golamco, Randall Park, Ali Wong
Starring: Ali Wong, Randall Park, James Saito, Michelle Buteau, Vivian Bang
Genres: Romance, Comedy
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug use/references, and language
Where to Watch: Netflix
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Runtime: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Always Be My Maybe may, in some respects, be considered a standard romantic comedy — especially with its numerous predictable elements and stereotypically terrible significant others — but it finds enough ways to keep the genre fresh and interesting without seeming to cater to anyone in particular.
After the success of Crazy Rich Asians, it’s wonderful to see another romantic comedy centered on individuals of Asian descent (in this case, Asian-American). As the couple that may or may not actually end up together, comedians Ali Wong and Randall Park have excellent chemistry, despite their real-life age different of nearly a decade. Wong’s Sasha and Park’s Marcus have been friends for most of their lives, and even hooked up once before never seeing each other until 20 years later. Sasha is now a wealthy, successful chef with several restaurants, while Marcus is still living with and working for his father (a charming James Saito) as a repairman. It’s easy to see how these two worlds will collide and how the differences between the two will arise, but that doesn’t make the journey any less enjoyable.
There are several scene-stealers in the film, notably Michelle Buteau as Sasha’s pregnant assistant Veronica, Vivian Bang as Marcus’ wacky semi-girlfriend Jenny. And, then, of course, there’s the ageless Keanu Reeves, who is an absolute scene-stealer — and clearly had a blast playing an alternate, narcissistic, snobbish version of himself. In one particularly hilarious scene, there is a double-date at a fancy, surreal restaurant, followed by a verbal and then physical fight between Marcus and Keanu.
Wong and Park co-wrote (along with Michael Golamco) the script, which is not as cliche-ridden as you might expect from a rom-com. Thankfully, there are plenty of pop culture references to satisfy an entertainment snob like me, including from and about Reeves himself. And, even though just about every beat in the third act is predictable, that’s okay, because the film injected some much-needed charm into a hackneyed genre.