Streaming Review – Always Be My Maybe
Netflix continues its campaign of resurrecting the rom-com genre by recruiting the creative team behind Fresh Off the Boat and freeing them from the shackles of coming-of-age kid stuff. Directed by Nahnatchka Khan, Always is written by and stars Randall Park (FOTB, The Interview) and Ali Wong (stand-up specials Hard Knock Wife and Baby Cobra) as Marcus and Sasha, best friends through childhood and adolescence, who reconnect after sixteen years. Sasha has become a world-renowned chef and restauranteur, while Marcus plays in a local band and still lives with his father. You already know going in that the two are meant to be together, but the movie succeeds, for the most part, in avoiding the tired rom-com cliches, and instead dives right into the minutiae of their lives and the specific flavor of their relationship; it’s not about someone trying to “win” someone else, but rather about us getting to know and care about these characters. And it’s refreshing, and a small miracle, that our two lovebirds are not white, and are allowed to just be real people, free from any stereotypes; Khan, Park and Wong present us authentic Asian-American culture, minus any Hollywood-manufactured racial fantasy. Randall Park brings a very specific, Everyman charm to Marcus, and proves again why he’s one of Hollywood’s best, most underrated comics. Ali Wong, meanwhile, brings a scrappy, down to earth charm to a supposedly cosmopolitan one-percenter, building upon her established, savagely raunchy stand-up comedian persona. And as a most excellent bonus, Keanu Reeves delivers a hilarious cameo as a heightened, super-douche version of himself. Dude has not been this entertaining in forever. Always Be My Maybe is a light, breezy good time whose success rests largely on the likability of its stars and on its relatable depiction of relationship pitfalls.