As you may have read, The Unpublishables co-founder Doretta Lau and I were extremely excited to watch Always Be My Maybe, Ali Wong’s first Netflix film (with more to come, I’m sure). So after I put my kid to bed, I set everything I needed for my viewing and messaged Doretta:
MPL: i am watching always be my maybe now!
and drinking tea
I AM FUCKING LIVING
where are my sunglasses
Just a quick explainer: I don’t usually eat grapes (which I love) because they make me uncomfortably bloated, and I recently bought a pair of Gentle Monster sunglasses that I have been dying to wear except it’s been overcast the past few days and so I’ve been wearing them indoors at night while watching YouTube and eating chicken korma.
This is all just to say that I was ready to dive into Always Be My Maybe, and I was not disappointed AT ALL. I do want to start off this review by saying that I wasn’t expecting anything particularly groundbreaking about the romantic tropes of this film. The appeal and charm of Always Be My Maybe is that it is like a K-drama–the right people will end up with each other–and the fun is in the process. However, the film is low-key groundbreaking in that it treats Asian American characters as normal people who are happy being themselves.
I was quite annoyed by a couple of negative reviews by Asian Americans who preferred that the show address such crucial issues like how Asian Americans always feel like they don’t belong anywhere. One of these reviewers is a huge fan of Crazy Rich Asians, which he said is groundbreaking because it addresses this. Really? Is that what Asian Americans are going to peg their identities on because I know a lot of Asian Americans who are perfectly happy being who they are. It’s white supremacy that makes them miserable, not their culture/race. Maybe these reviewers should think about that.
In fact, what makes Always Be My Maybe truly groundbreaking–and more so than Crazy Rich Asians–is that it’s such a realistic depiction of what it’s like to be Asian American if you grow up in a community with lots of other Asians, and you don’t hate yourself. When I lived in Toronto, my boyfriend at the time grew up in Agincourt, which was mostly Chinese even back then, and so the few white people who didn’t have traditionally white names like Cody or Brent were referred to as White Chris or White Kev. That’s the kind of community that I felt was really reflected in Always Be My Maybe. People just live their lives without having to trumpet JUST HOW ASIAN THEY ARE. They simply exist as Asian Americans and get on with their lives and work.
So, on to my review: I enjoyed it, it was fun and fluffy like a good romantic comedy, and the characters had their flaws but they weren’t assholes. These are a few highlights that I messaged to Doretta (some spoilers ahead):
MPL: the indian dude from deadpool is in this film
randall is speaking canto
hahaha i’m dying
they cut out a couple of jokes that were in the trailer
but so far it’s delightful
keanu’s entrance OST is hilarious
they filmed him like when he appears in john wick
he’s such a good sport
he’s playing himself, but an extroverted version
OMG he has a killer line about stars holy shit
YES HE NAME DROPPED TOM FORD
The reason I was so happy about this is that I immediately knew that Keanu’s glasses in this film were Tom Ford, even though I’m not really up to date on the latest styles or fashion simply because Tom Ford’s aesthetic is so clear and focused that I can identify his products.
MPL: they just started playing collective soul
which means SOME SHIT IS GOING DOWN
And some shit definitely did go down, and a lot of this has to do with Keanu’s comedic timing and surprising ability to act like my middle school classmate’s older brother who used to whip out his encyclopedia and ask us questions that we obviously couldn’t answer so we would feel dumb.
I have to sleep now but final verdict: Randall is still low-key hot, and I thought his band’s songs were really catchy. Ali’s timing is impeccable as always. Worth the watch!