The criticisms of “Joy Ride” have swerved in an unexpected direction.
The AAPI-led R-rated comedy, starring Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu and Sabrina Wu as friends who embark on a wild and noisy road trip across China, is executive produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. “Joy Ride” debuted at SXSW earlier this year, but first-time director Adele Lim is only now having to address the film’s racist criticisms, as it’s due for a wide release this week.
Wednesday Lim retweeted a tweet from film critic Jackson Murphy (aka Lights Camera Jackson) in which Murphy wrote that the film is “embarrassing and incredibly nasty”, also claiming that the comedy “objectifies men, targets white people”.
In his response to the retweet, Lim wrote, “Imma need ‘Objectify men, target white people’ on a shirt” followed by a series of praying hands and emojis of crying and laughing faces.
According to the film’s official synopsis, it “follows Audrey (Park) after her business trip to Asia goes sideways. She enlists the help of Lolo (Cola), her cheeky childhood best friend who also happens to be a mess; Kat (Hsu), her college friend turned Chinese soap opera star; and Deadeye (Wu), Lolo’s eccentric cousin. “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Raya and the Last Dragon” writer Lim developed the story with screenwriters Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao.
“Any underrepresented group, there are certain ways you are represented. It wasn’t something I had necessarily set out to do early in my career, but as an Asian woman in this space, I was very aware of how I was perceived. Asian women on screen consider you something exotic,” Lim recently said The Hollywood Reporter. “We were like the first subsection on Pornhub. It’s all shitty. But the community reaction was, “OK, let’s totally disavow our sexuality,” which is rubbish, because it’s a part of us. You surrender to terrorists when you do.
Lim joked during the 2023 SXSW premiere that “Joy Ride” needed a “rich white boy” ally to produce, both to thank and introduce Rogen.
IndieWire’s review applauded the writers’ ability to “set the comedic tone of the racial commentary that runs throughout the film and show no mercy in how these characters deal with day-to-day judgment and labeling, even if others don’t.” intended to be intentionally offensive. … The script overflows with comedy and social commentary almost to a fault because there is so much these talented women want and deserve to say. Since there are no movies like this readily available, trying to score points becomes urgent at times, and there are few moments where audiences can completely marinate with the impact.