I spent most of May being super excited about a new rom-com starring Randall Park and Ali Wong called Always Be My Maybe, much more excited than I had been about Crazy Rich Asians. I liked it more, too, when I finally watched it over the weekend, but can I just say that it made me really happy to see this come on the heels of Crazy Rich Asians‘ success? It is just so nice to see how Asian-Americans are stepping up and pretty much taking over the rom-com scene, even with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. I didn’t like that one much, but it doesn’t matter so much my opinion on each individual movie–I am still happy to see all these movies coming out, making waves, and being well received.
What I particularly liked about Always Be My Maybe was that it felt different from Crazy Rich Asians in a good way–it was essentially the next step. Crazy Rich Asians may have explored the strange cultural dichotomy between Asian and Asian-American, which is a great topic and an enlightening one for non-Asians, it still focused a great deal on Asian-ness overall. However, Always Be My Maybe did not focus nearly as much on the cultural aspect, and the two leads were treated as any other leads of an American rom-com. There was a nice touch of culture as a respectful homage to their roots, but nothing over the top. I loved that very much. It felt natural and refreshing. It couldn’t have been done without Crazy Rich Asians setting a precedent, though, and I’m excited to see where the genre goes from here.
Before moving on to the actual review, I have to say the trailers and title were misleading. This won’t break or make it, but I have to comment on a lot of things in this post apparently. So the promos made me think that Randall Park’s Marcus is the friendzoned man who constantly wants his childhood pal, an oblivious Ali Wong’s Sasha, to notice and fall in love with him. However, it actually turned out that she is the one who is more open about her feelings toward him and going after the relationship, so the marketing was a bit odd for me. Not a comment on the actual movie, which I really enjoyed, but I went in expecting something entirely different. Going back to Sasha, though, I love how she pursued the relationship but in a way that did not sacrifice who she was and the life she made for herself.
This is a must-watch on Netflix. I loved the acting as well as the writing from Randall Park and Ali Wong. It is a rom-com in all sense of the word, so do not go in expecting something amazing void of tropes. It had all the tropes and while I do not think of it as a classic like When Harry Met Sally or Ten Things I Hate About You, it was enjoyable. It had comedic moments (I love all of Keanu Reeves’s scenes and the song dedicated to punching him in the credits), good cameos (Keanu again, but also Daniel Dae Kim), good character development (both characters grow and learn something, even though I think it was a lot easier on Sasha’s part), fun music (see: “I punched Keanu and stole his girl” song), believable chemistry, and a good story arc that was well-paced and well-resolved (see: character developments).
The best part is that the story felt complete. It was written well. Particularly the ending had me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside and wanting to bump the score up by one point (I didn’t do it). I love how the ending connected the story back to the beginning, showing the cycle of their relationship and bringing them back to how food creates a home.
The story was well developed. No important relationships to the leads were left in the gutter. I particularly liked how they did not gloss over Sasha’s relationship with her parents, who worked so hard all their lives that she felt neglected as a child. After retirement, they want to make it up to her, and it was funny how it was through paying for their food at her restaurant. It was a simple but effective resolution given how her parents had placed importance on saving money all their lives but now chose her over that. The leads also learn something from each other in a believable way.
Overall, the story was not over-the-top amazing, but it was good , and people tend to gloss over that and look for the big things. Even though I was cringing at the very public declaration of love, I liked how they toned down the cringe through Marcus’s “bad” speech about loving Sasha. I liked the simple, somewhat self-aware writing. I liked the straightforwardness of everything.
Weirdly, my very favorite thing about this movie was Ali Wong’s fashion. She looked so good in every outfit, from casual to chic, that I was getting major closet envy–and she always completed each stunning set with some stylish, unique glasses. Seriously. I need her wardrobe. Most reviews don’t have a sartorial section, but I truly appreciated her outfit choices in Always Be My Maybe (yes, you caught me, I really wanted to use the word “sartorial”).
This movie is a cute weekend watch! It signals the inevitable return of the rom-com genre in full form, the rise of Asian-American leads, and just the cute message that love isn’t dead. I definitely recommend you watch it! Enjoy and let me know your thoughts down below!