Dear Gossips, 

The last time we posted about screenwriter and now director Adele Lim, it was back in 2019 and after the success of Crazy Rich Asians, which she co-wrote, she turned down an offer from the studio and the producers to work on the script for the sequel because they were paying her a fraction of what they were paying the other writer, Peter Chiarelli. As Adele put it at the time, she refused to be the “soy sauce” on the project, “hired to sprinkle culturally specifical details on a screenplay, rather than credited with the substantive work of crafting the story”. 


Four years later, Adele’s film, Joy Ride, her directorial debut, screened at SXSW last weekend to strong reviews. Written by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao, Joy Ride features Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Sabrina Wu, and Stephanie Hsu, fresh off her Oscar nomination, on a trip to China on a business trip while also in search of one of their birth mothers. It’s profane and it’s hilarious and it was just announced a couple of days ago that the cast will receive the Comedy Ensemble of the Year Award at CinemaCon in Vegas in April

How ‘bout that soy sauce now? 

The trailer for Joy Ride was shared a few days ago to coincide with the movie’s warm reception at SXSW – this was the perfect audience for raunchy women’s road trip – and I love everything I’m seeing here so far, right from the opening moments. Because this is exactly the kind of subversion that our community is ready for. Two little Asian girls meeting on a playground encounter a white kid who “ching-chongs” them, an experience many of us are all too familiar with. But what happens next isn’t an after-school special. It’s an after-hours special, LOL. 


In case it wasn’t already clear, this preview is NSFW: 


The other thing that’s hitting here is that Joy Ride is basically annihilating the stereotype about Asian women – that we’re submissive, quiet, well-behaved, polite. That we can’t be crude, rude, disgusting, foul, aggressive. And those aren’t just stereotypes that are upheld by westerners; they are also stereotypes that have been entrenched in our own spaces. Asian women have been limited both from the outside and the inside. Joy Ride is tearing down limits, those expectations of who Asian women should be, and what boxes they’re allowed to occupy. It’s exhilarating and I’ve only just seen two minutes. In July we’ll get an hour a half of this kind of comedy… and that too is significant because Joy Ride is getting a theatrical opening, as it should. 


A story about four messy Asian women deserves its place on the big screen. And note too the deliberate choice of putting “Joy” in the title. I wonder if it’s a reference to The Joy Luck Club, which made history exactly 30 years ago this September, also featuring four Asian women and their stories about back home. As important at The Joy Luck Club is, and it continues to mean as much to me and others in the diaspora now as it is then, it shouldn’t be the only Asian female narrative that Hollywood is willing to invest in. There should be as many versions, as different from each other as possible. And Joy Ride is the latest entry. 

Yours in gossip,