Always Be My Maybe (2019)
June 1, 2019 2:47 AM - Subscribe

Ali Wong & Randall Park stars as a pair of childhood friends end up falling for each other when they grow up. Now on Netflix and selected theaters. Trailer.
posted by cendawanita (52 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I really liked this one. it's fairly middling, but otoh it reminded me like the 90s Ephron romcoms, when a lot more things were happening in each lead's lives. and the main couple felt cute enough!

that Keanu stunt casting is pure gold though.
posted by cendawanita at 2:50 AM on June 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

This was adorable!
posted by ellieBOA at 7:41 AM on June 1, 2019

I want to hold your purse is a super romantic proposal because it's supportive! He's listened to her and he supports her dream! He wants to hold her purse!!!

I may have burst into messy sobs at that scene.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:24 PM on June 1, 2019 [12 favorites]

Also Ali Wong got to date Randall Park, Keanu Reeves and Daniel Dae Kim on film. I <3 her ambition.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:29 PM on June 1, 2019 [39 favorites]

I loved it! It was a solid romcom, smart and funny and contemporary, and the cast is SO good. Lots of great laugh out loud moments (I also cried five minutes into it but I may be kind of on a cliff right now). Watch the credits long enough to hear the punching Keanu Reeves song.
posted by obfuscation at 6:18 PM on June 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

I loved Park in Ant-Man and the Wasp, looking forward to seeing him in this.

His look at the end of the trailer is golden. I think I watched that slow zoom in on him four times in a row.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:10 PM on June 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I only watched this for the Asian American representation, but instead I fell in love with how they were just a cute rom-com couple that just happened to be Asian American. And the NYT article does a great job putting this all in context for non-Asian-American audiences. Like how Khan wanted to show a young Ali Wong watching a white family on TV and a normal American dad that just happened to be of Korean descent. Those details just mean so much for Asian American audiences. And the end of the NYT article when Ali Wong thinks Randall Park is writing for a white actress then realizes they're writing for Wong to be the female lead and she looks in the mirror gave me all the feels.
posted by Become A Silhouette at 2:41 AM on June 2, 2019 [8 favorites]

Well-executed romcoms are rare these days. This was fun. As others have noted, this plays by the tropes in the broad strokes, but tweaks them in fun ways.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:07 AM on June 3, 2019

I thought this was mostly cute and fun but nothing too special (although as a white guy I'm not the target audience for Asian-American representation) -- except that glorious 20 minutes when Keanu was on screen. That was completely bonkers in a very well-executed way, and I love that it started with Reeves playing this over-the-top version of his public persona and then escalated into the other characters and setting taking on that same tint of unreality. (Sugar bubbles!)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:19 AM on June 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

A cute, sweet romcom with lots of San Francisco and Asian-American touches. (For those who don't know: Reeves is also partially of Asian-American descent!) I saw this in the one theater in NYC that's playing it and enjoyed gasping, crying, and laughing along with the rest of the audience.

I laughed aloud at the Paula Deen joke.

Oh this is interesting: Saito (who plays Marcus's dad) first appeared onscreen in an adaptation of Farewell to Manzanar.
posted by brainwane at 12:58 PM on June 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

Harry! "Like that commercial for that thing!" The best character.

I'm a white guy, too, and I liked this a lot a lot. Keanu was great, especially that he was the one who gave her the hickey. "I'm very familiar with Chinese dignitaries, MAR. CUS." He also somehow didn't steal the show, which was nice. Everything else was smooth sailing. San Francisco movies made by San Francisco people always seem to have a amateurish edge -- like there's always one piece of equipment they couldn't afford to rent -- that this one didn't have at all. There were only a couple of hammy moments, the red carpet grand gesture being one of them (but not terrible and also it was short), and maybe the fact that it wasn't a white people movie smoothed it out.

Cool DJ Qbert cameo on the sidewalk after the first show.
posted by rhizome at 11:47 PM on June 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

I guess it's 1/2 San Francisco and 1/2 LA people between the writers and director.
posted by rhizome at 11:54 PM on June 4, 2019

as a white guy I'm not the target audience for Asian-American representation

I think everyone is the target audience for Asian American representation.
posted by obfuscation at 6:55 AM on June 5, 2019 [51 favorites]

Yep, just checked and I am still humming a lot of Hello Peril to myself. Those are some bops, y'all.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:00 AM on June 5, 2019 [8 favorites]

I love how the tennis ball dilemma was dealt with completely behind the scenes. That feels so rare for every plot thread not to be UP FRONT.
posted by rhizome at 11:28 AM on June 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

i and the gf loved this. we are the gross couple making out in front of other people so those scenes had us laughing at ourselves pretty hard. and of course all the Vietnamese stuff was very appreciated.

I loved that the Asianness of the characters are just there. It's not pointed out, it's not a plot point, it's just who they are. At the same time it reminded me of my own life growing up in America. The jokes about being cheapskates, the comment about authentic food, the tragedy of overworked and neglectful parents; while those are universal ideas, they struck a certain chord with me, because it was my reality too. This is what true representation feels like.

On the flip side of that representation, I don't think you have to be Asian American to enjoy this movie. The same way that I enjoyed When Harry Met Sally or any other rom-coms with white leads. What makes it work is that they're relatable stories no matter what race you are. The ambitious woman filling her emptiness with work and hookups, the scared man using his family and situation as a crutch for not fulfilling his goals, the single parent moving on with their life, the neglectful parents trying to make up for lost time, these are all human stories that I think every American can understand and relate to. What this means is that white audiences can see that Asian Americans are just Americans, and it can help bridge a gap between cultural differences.
posted by numaner at 1:22 PM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

Cool DJ Qbert cameo on the sidewalk after the first show.

Hes talking to Dan the Automator (who collaborated on the Hello Peril beats/rhymes with Lyrics Born who played Quasar in the band)!
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:38 PM on June 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

Apparently Reeves was delighted that Park and Wong thought of him as Asian American because no matter how frequently he reminds people, he doesn't get treated as such.
posted by teleri025 at 2:16 PM on June 10, 2019 [17 favorites]

This was supercute! The only thing that I found slightly distracting is that I wish Ali Wong had changed up her glasses more. I associate that shape with 'Ali Wong' the standup comic, rather than Sasha the chef... But that minor costuming quibble aside this was delightful and Keanu's cameo was inspired.
posted by TwoStride at 2:43 PM on June 10, 2019

Sasha's crack about how, to her parents, the worst thing EVER is to have to TIP SOMEONE made me legit snort-choke with laughter because oh God, it's the truest thing that has ever been said about a certain segment of Asian parents. LIKE MINE.

My one disappointment is that I wish the movie spent a little more time with Sasha's internal and emotional life -- like, I get NOT having a scene where she and her parents sit and talk about feelings and hug it out, and only having them actually show their love in a way that totally suprises her (spending money and paying for the meal when they didn't have to! coming out to visit her!!!). That's deeply, deeply immigrant parent.

On the other hand, I wish there was a little more time spent with what Sasha was thinking and feeling but wasn't saying out loud. Like, we got to spend a lot of time with Marcus and his messy room and his bandmates, but Sasha really only gets shots of luxury AirBnB real estate and maybe some snarky interactions with her assistant. I walked away from the movie without a vivid sense of how Sasha got into cooking, for example, or whether Sasha's reactions to feeling abandoned by her fiance tied with her feelings of having been abandoned by her parents. The birthday party for the relative's kid didn't go as deep on Sasha's feeling of WTF I GOT NOTHING LIKE THIS as it could have done.

I don't know if that's intentional, because that kind of abandonment is a Real Actual Trauma Point for a meaningful portion of the people who they made the movie for, and it would have been Too Real. But I did miss it in the movie. It also left me with the burning personal question of whether Sasha ever worked in her parents' store, as would have been TOTALLY TYPICAL of that kinda family joint.
posted by joyceanmachine at 3:21 PM on June 10, 2019 [7 favorites]

I walked away from the movie without a vivid sense of how Sasha got into cooking, for example...

I was feeling this pretty hard through most of the movie, but then at the end we find out she was inspired by Judy and was probably just trying to recapture the feeling of "home" she didn't get from her own family. But yeah maybe not enough there still.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it!

Here's a video of @davechensky and @joyofnapping watching the movie and pausing it to discuss what sticks out to them, as Asian-Americans.
posted by ODiV at 3:51 PM on June 10, 2019

I really liked this. I am a big fan of rom-coms and romance novels and this was a well done. The emotional pay-off seemed well-earned, it was funny and charming. I like romances where you want to inhabit the world they're in, and I wanted to inhabit their world.

I watched it with a friend who is part-Taiwanese and very excited about Asian (and non-white generally) representation in film, and she was even more delighted than me.

There's a tendency in rom-coms to make one character nearly perfect and the other one a hot goddamned mess and I liked that both of these characters had their issues they needed to work on to show growth.

If I had a quibble with the film, I would say it was the restaurant-related things. They were jarringly inaccurate to the timelines and amount and type of work that go into opening new restaurants. But worse, the movie was really clear in its lack of respect for high end food which didn't sit well given that high end food was where Sasha made her mark. It's great that she could open a home-cooking based restaurant and it felt like a return to something special from her childhood, but they didn't need to make a mockery out of her life thus far to do it. It could have been about how the job of an Exec is too removed from the actual food, the part she presumably loved, too crazy with details of decor and not hands on the menu enough, that would have given her a reason to go back, without making it seem like her accomplishments weren't meaningful. Also, I mean, striving for authenticity has been super-trendy in restaurants for, oh, ever now, so it's not like this was some wildly crazy risk.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:55 PM on June 10, 2019 [13 favorites]

Also: Harry is the best.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:59 PM on June 10, 2019

I wanted so badly to like this, but I parachuted the fuck out of there after the joke about how the bar/venue reminded them of Boys Don't Cry. A casual joke about trans folks getting murdered definitely spoils my appetite for romantic comedy.
posted by ITheCosmos at 4:45 AM on June 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

Here 's a video of @davechensky and @joyofnapping watching the movie and pausing it to discuss what sticks out to them, as Asian-Americans.

I'm enjoying this! Lots to learn, as a Southeast Asian. But also, it reminded me (and sorry for bringing it up) of Crazy Rich Asians, when Singaporeans (and Malaysians) were pretty much :/ at how Singapore was orientalised and represented, and contrast that video with this Singaporean podcast, where one of the things they went ??? is the northern Chinese mandarin-speaking traditions that movie insisted all Chinese including Southeast Asians must practice. And look at this movie! East Asians contain multitudes! And AMERICAN Asians have their own thing! What an incredible thing to must point out.
posted by cendawanita at 7:09 AM on June 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yeah I think what I appreciated the most was that this movie was about Asians who grew up in America, and how American their identity is. It's a specific representation, but it's very common, and one that hasn't been significant in films since Better Luck Tomorrow, which I still need to see (although I'd heard it wasn't great).

On the other hand, I wish there was a little more time spent with what Sasha was thinking and feeling but wasn't saying out loud

Yes, I second this. On the other hand it would be very on point for Asian-Americans to never say out loud what the hell they're feeling.
posted by numaner at 8:18 AM on June 11, 2019

I loved this film so much! I really enjoyed the bit where Randall Park's character got free food for speaking Cantonese. I also went ??? at the Boys Don't Cry reference, though. And the bit where he peed on the amplifier.

But still it made me get teary-eyed at the end.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:14 PM on June 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Netflix just posted the blooper reel.
posted by cendawanita at 9:54 PM on June 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Everyone already covered how well the movie captured Asian American upbringings, so I wanted to comment on another thing that I found remarkable about the movie.

It was so refreshing that they didn't make Park's character super successful in the end, or have Wong's character have a change of heart and stay back in SF in the end. The movie ends with a superstar woman, with a supportive male partner who's not a superstar himself and probably will never be. And that's OK. It's amazing how uncommon that actually is in movies. Usually the woman compromises somehow.
posted by peacheater at 3:56 AM on June 12, 2019 [17 favorites]

I agree - that "I want to hold your purse" conclusion was something really special.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:39 AM on June 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

Loved how they let it seem like it would be a grand proposal and then the offer to hold her bag was just perfect!
posted by ellieBOA at 11:27 AM on June 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yes, I was internally cringing at that moment, because I hate big public proposals so much - and then they turned it around so beautifully!
posted by peacheater at 11:45 AM on June 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

I loved this movie. And I'm so so happy for Ali Wong! She seems wonderful.
posted by likeatoaster at 1:35 PM on June 15, 2019

Watched it for the Keanu Reeves/restaurant scene, was not disappointed.
posted by Coaticass at 5:33 AM on June 16, 2019

Also, nthing that Harry IS the best.
posted by Coaticass at 5:36 AM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Just absolutely loved this delicious confection! Near perfection.
My ONE beef is that Veronica's beau, Denise should have been a butch. She's a queer woman from SF, she reads as a legit queer to me, and while all lesbian relationships are not butch/femme, I think this relationship would have been! (I will accept arguments only from fellow queers on this!)
posted by latkes at 10:19 AM on June 16, 2019

Also I'm re-listening to "I punched Keanu Reeves" and it somehow is making me cry??!
posted by latkes at 10:26 AM on June 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I liked this so much! What great leads, the supporting cast was great, and I loved the fact that they both realized some things about themselves, but didn't essentially change who they are, except to try harder to be people who could fit each other into their lives more. I liked that.

The Keanu bits were too long for me. I loved his character, I loved the arc, but it was just like they had him for X number of days of filming, and they kept every single minute of footage in the film, and it dragged down the story of the people I actually liked in it.

I also wish that the stuff about Sasha having a skewed perspective about what her childhood with her parents was like could have either been explored more or not be as prevalent a part of their friction, because it seemed both unresolved and fixed too quickly at the same time for me. Could have chopped a bit out of the truth-or-dare game to cover that issue, but that's just my opinion.

The final scene and her most recent restaurant really got to me, though. A wonderful button on a really delightful film. I want more of them!
posted by xingcat at 6:54 AM on June 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

The final scene and her most recent restaurant really got to me, though.

As someone who lost their mother when they were young (15), this part had me in tears.

Absolutely loved the film.
posted by terrapin at 8:00 AM on June 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best Believe I Punched Keanu Reeves is my favorite song now.

Though Always Be My Maybe has some of the pitfalls I find in most of the heterosexual romcoms I watch (see: Marcus acting like a giant entitled baby in the Keanu scene because he's a ~jealous man~), it's still so much better than, well, most of the heterosexual romcoms I've ever seen. I loved that Sasha ends the movie more successful than Marcus and that's okay: a lesser movie would have had Hello Peril become deus ex machina famous or make Sasha give up part of her career. The moral in this one is that Marcus has to learn to be okay playing a supporting role in Sasha's life, and that is a great fucking moral.

The supporting cast was great. Keanu Reeves was amazing, Vivian Bang was hilariously horrible, James Saito is the absolute best. This movie is a treasure trove of Asian-American talent. I also really liked how very specifically Bay Area so much of it felt, from everyone snapping instead of clapping at spoken word poetry night to the hipster in a newsboy cap calling himself a LGBTQIA ally.
posted by storytam at 10:27 AM on June 17, 2019 [4 favorites]

I don't think it's as simple as "entitled baby." The vast majority of hetero women I (cis male) match with or have a high percentage match on OKCupid, answer "yes" to the question of whether jealousy is good in a relationship, and want partners who think the same. My "no" is red (disfavored answer to them) way more often than not, like 90%+.
posted by rhizome at 2:44 PM on June 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I watched this mostly because I enjoy Ali Wong's comedy and I just freaking love watching Randall Park on screen in general, so I got all I wanted and more. I do agree that Sasha's internal life felt comparatively under-examined.

I didn't get the sense that the movie had any disrespect towards high end food in general. What it was happy to skewer was the type of high end dining that exists primarily to serve as a status signal for its patrons, rather than a venue for a talented chef to do creative work, and I didn't get the sense that it implicated Sasha's restaurants in that way. That Marcus felt alienated when he went to Sasha's SF location didn't come across to me as the movie saying that her entire career up until that point was a bunch of bullshit, just that it could both be the case that she's a master who does amazing work and that the trappings of that world are exclusionary. I thought the movie did a pretty good job at not being sanctimonious about prizing one of those senses over the other.
posted by invitapriore at 3:37 PM on June 17, 2019 [5 favorites]

What it was happy to skewer was the type of high end dining that exists primarily to serve as a status signal for its patrons, rather than a venue for a talented chef to do creative work, and I didn't get the sense that it implicated Sasha's restaurants in that way.

Thinking about it a little more, I don't think it's a coincidence that it's in that restaurant where they have the double date that Keanu brings up the point that his glasses are just frames with no lenses.
posted by invitapriore at 11:22 AM on June 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed this! Especially since it has the general Hallmark Channel movie setup, but allows Sasha to keep her job at the end and makes it clear that they both had to grow a little bit.

I didn't get the impression that Sasha's interior life was underexamined, but I also connected to the 'absent parents mean getting semi-adopted by friends' moms and then feeling like you're taking something you aren't entitled to and resentful when your parents maybe have time for other kids' to an unhealthy degree.

The two things I'd change was more Charlyne Yi (she's fantastic! and her line reading on her two lines were hilarious, but she should have had more than two lines) and done more with the fact that Veronica was the third high school friend in the cafeteria scene at the beginning. I spent the entire movie wondering if that was supposed to be the same character and only got it confirmed in the credits (I might have missed something though).
posted by dinty_moore at 6:32 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I made my 82yo mom watch it yesterday and I agree that Sasha's parents and young Veronica could have been spelled out more.
posted by rhizome at 12:15 PM on June 20, 2019

Daniel Dae Kim plays that asshole guy so well while also being ridiculously good looking.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:41 PM on June 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

There are a lot of Bay Area references like Randall Park's Amoeba Music Berkeley shirt and the reference to snacking out of the bulk bins at Rainbow Grocery, which a co-op worker friend noted is definitely shoplifting.

However, this local was a bit mystified by the scene where they're supposed to be on Clement Street but there's red lamp-posts. Turns out that part was shot in Vancouver.
posted by larrybob at 9:18 AM on June 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

That jumped out at me, too. I thought it could have been an odd street sign somewhere in the neightborhood, but there's also a similar "Fifth Ave" sign in that scene and, well, that was just too much for me to believe. It seemed like (read: I was hoping) a comedic reference to troll locals, especially since it seemed like it could be elsewhere in SF.
posted by rhizome at 1:36 PM on June 21, 2019

I am haunted by the scene with the sugar-bubble dessert and the looks on all their faces when it is produced. Comedy flashbacks!
posted by Coaticass at 4:17 PM on June 22, 2019

wow it's been a while since i watched a rom-com so perfect from the first minute to the last. good characters! good story! good growth arc!

Left me with a good feeling when I finished watching instead of a slight greasy/queasy feeling like a long list of rom-coms I could mention.

do not understand why that club offered them a re-audition, though. I actually started wondering if the voice messages were a dream/fantasy because i found it so unbelievable. and i was relieved that the merch sales were because of sasha, as that also was a bit unbelievable.
posted by Cozybee at 5:36 AM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

having read the comments:

I did not feel like we had an inadequate look at sasha's internal workings. i felt things were stated more subtly rather than straight out, but to me at least it was made clear how emotionally grounding food was for her (the scene with marcus's mom seemed really obvious), same for her resentment at her parents throwing that party for the other kid, etc. I dunno, Ali Wong has a really expressive face I felt like she acted out an entire essay on Sasha's feelings. Plus, the fact that Sasha does not address these things straight on but deflects felt so important to her character, and made the handful of times she was totally honest punch really hard in the gut.

I do wish a tiny bit more time had been spent on her realization, via marcus, that she focused on the negative of her childhood and filtered out the positive bits. For me that would have helped the reconciliation with her parents flow smoother
posted by Cozybee at 10:50 AM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Finally got around to this one... highlights:
1. Keanu. I lost it at the crab walk.
2. Marcus’ dad. “You think I can’t put a needle in my own ass?”
3. The details... the way she shaved her chopsticks at the restaurant... Marcus’ bed sheets, those old lady flowers and 90s teen boy triangle pattern, omg

It was good, but somewhat underwritten - no sub plots, thin supporting characters, no big theme. And I wasn’t sold on their chemistry, since they met as kids it felt too brother-sister for my liking, and never evolved out of that. Given two comedian stars it seems hard to make that leap. Plot was straight forward and thin too, although it was very clear where her interest in cooking came from. It could have benefitted from some additional writing. But funny one liners nonetheless. So, overall a kind of middling romcom.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:38 PM on July 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

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