Always Be My Maybe (NETFLIX) Starring Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves; Directed by Nahnatchka Khan; Rating: *** (3 and a half stars)
When was the last time I had so much fun watching a romcom? Can’t remember. But the sheer joy of flowing with this breezy fluid mellow-drama about childhood friends growing up into belligerent reluctant lovers, was an experience worth going through.
Some critics have commented on the light tone of the film. But light isn’t flippant. Simply because the film doesn’t address gay issues or a nuclear leakage doesn’t mean it can make no claims to being something serious. And when I say ‘serious’ I don’t mean a glum countenance gotten into the film just to look committed to something more than frothy entertainment.
Always Be My Maybe is proudly nakedly persistently frothy and entertaining. It tells the story of Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park) who are neighbours since childhood. Their kinship is undeniable from the word go. And that they would finally come together is not a spoiler. It’s a no brainer. The pleasure here lies not in the destination but the journey as the couple goes from being mean to one another to meaning something special to one another.
Writers Ali Wong, Randall Park, Michael Golamco expend their mixed energy in creating a brew that is at once bracing and enjoyable. The one-liners and situational jokes flow fast and furiously but never eclipse the compulsive charm of the young lead pair as they gambol from one well-written scene to the next .It’s almost like trading one beautifully fitted outfit for another before the design or the tailoring starts to pinch.
A lot of the humour is centred on food.And the film’s piece de resistance is a restaurant sequence where Keanu Reeves appears as Sasha’s temporary love-interest. The entire sequence with Sasha and Keanu on one end and Marcus and his zany weird-haired girlfriend on the other, is so so so intelligent witty and entertaining it could have made for a movie on its own.
For a film that aims to take entertaining potshots at romantic conventions Always Be My Maybe is surprisingly smart and sassy.Besides the main characters who are irresistibly flawed and not afraid to show it, you will love some of the marginal characters like Marcus’s coolest Dad(James Saito), Marcus’s goofiest girlfriend (Vivian Bang) and his quirky best friend Tony(Karan Soni).
Curiously this is a film about the South Asian community in America but hardly draws attention to the cultural background of the characters. The one stereotyping device that irked me in this film is the portrayal of the rich as mean and the workingclass as angels.
If only life were that simple. That’s where the movies come in.