‘Joy Ride’ Review: Friendship at its Funniest

Written by Matt Rodriguez

Nothing tests the bonds of friendship more than a road trip or vacation with someone. If you want to see a person’s true colors, just spend a few days trapped together in a confined space with them. It could either break your friendship or strengthen it; either way it will be tested. Adele Lim beautifully and hilariously captures those bonds of friendship being pushed to their absolute limits in Joy Ride. It’s a strong and daring directorial debut for the screenwriter of Crazy Rich AsiansJoy Ride is nothing but pure joy.

As the adoptive Chinese daughter of white parents, Audrey (Ashley Park) grew up feeling like an outsider compared to everyone around her. That is until she met her best friend Lolo (Sherry Cola), the only other Chinese girl in their town. Audrey quickly rose to become a prestigious lawyer, while Lolo embraced her creativity and made sex-positive art. When the opportunity to go to China to close a potential new deal and become partner at her law firm arises, Audrey jumps at the chance to visit her home country for the first time, with Lolo and her awkward cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu) tagging along for support. While there she also meets up with her college roommate and now famous actor friend Kat (Stephanie Hsu), who helps as a translator and tour guide since Audrey doesn’t speak Chinese. What starts off as a business trip however, soon transforms into an emotional journey to explore Audrey’s heritage that will either bring these four friends closer together or tear them apart forever.

Joy Ride might sound like a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants situation where there’s a lot of hugging, crying, and sharing of feelings, but The Hangover would be more accurate comparison. There’s a reason why the film is R-rated, and it takes full advantage of that. These women don’t hold back in letting their true thoughts fly, regardless of who’s around. No one is more comfortable being themselves than Lolo, whose art mostly consists of penises and vaginas being modeled in various positions. Audrey is more reserved as she tries to fit into this high profile lawyer identity life has pushed on her. But over the course of the trip she starts to free herself from the constraints society has pushed upon her. Your identity doesn’t have to be set in stone, no matter what anyone else may tell you.

The humor is also about as raunchy as it can get. Sex, religion, Asian stereotypes; Joy Ride doesn’t shy away from anything. And by anything I do mean anything. I never would have imagined having both MMF threesome and vaginal tattoo on my 2023 film bingo card, but here we are. I have a feeling that the film is going to connect more with a younger audience. It might just be a little bit too much for older generations. That being said, I was laughing throughout the entire film. The jokes are brutal and biting. Often it seems like the characters are simply stating, “This is who I am. Either you can accept me or not, but I’m not changing for you.” Joy Ride is as much about freedom as it is about friendship.

With No Hard Feelings and now Joy Ride, the raunchy comedy is making quite the theatrical comeback, and I am all here for it. Adele Lim is unrelenting in her vision. Not all the jokes land, but the majority do and do so like a slap to the face. There is no gentle caressing here. Lim is hitting for the fences. Joy Ride is a hilariously good time and is the friendship you didn’t know you needed.

  • Joy Ride


Joy Ride is a strong and daring directorial debut for the screenwriter of Crazy Rich Asians. It is nothing but pure joy.

About the author

Matt Rodriguez

Owner and Chief Editor of Shakefire.