Synopsis : The hilarious and unapologetically explicit story of identity and self-discovery centers on four unlikely friends who embark on a once-in-a-lifetime international adventure. When Audrey’s (Ashley Park) business trip to Asia goes sideways, she enlists the aid of Lolo (Sherry Cola), her irreverent, childhood best friend who also happens to be a hot mess; Kat (Stephanie Hsu), her college friend turned Chinese soap star; and Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), Lolo’s eccentric cousin. Their no-holds-barred, epic experience becomes a journey of bonding, friendship, belonging, and wild debauchery that reveals the universal truth of what it means to know and love who you are.
Rating: R (Language Throughout|Drug Content|Brief Graphic Nudity|Strong & Crude Sexual Content)
Original Language: English
Director: Adele Lim
Producer: Cherry Chevapravatumrong, Josh Fagen, Evan Goldberg, Teresa Hsiao, Adel Lim, Seth Rogen, James Weaver
Writer: Adele Lim, Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, Teresa Hsiao
Release Date (Theaters): Wide
Box Office (Gross USA): $5.8M
Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Production Co: Point Grey, Red Mysterious Hippo
Press conference with actors Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, Sabrina Wu, Chris Pang, Rohain Arora, Alexander Hodge, Director Adele Lim, writers Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, Teresa Hsiao
Q: The film premiered at South by Southwest, the perfect place for it. It also played at CamFest. It’s interesting seeing it with a majority Asian audience and with a majority white audience. How has it been— this could go for everyone. How has it been seeing it with different audiences?
Rohan Aurora: I’d like to add historically, there wasn’t a lot of diversity on screen but there were diverse audiences. Even though there’s an Asian cast, I think comedy also connects a lot of people. It should resonate with all kinds of people. And you also have a South Asian actor such as myself.
Sherry Cola: I feel like this film is at first, funny. We really want to emphasize that because the cultural specifics are just a plus, and to see and feel everyone laughing, gasping and shocked… The [reaction in] theaters has been thunderous. I just can’t wait for people to be blown away just because it’s a good ass movie.
Sabrina Wu: If anything, I think this was a little bit of a surprise to me as this was happening. I was more afraid of what Asian audiences would think. I think white people will love this but then there’s some element of, when you have a movie like this, [that it is] an Asian film. As an Asian person, I’ll see how Asian it is and if it hits me and was cool to see it, like at Camfest, and that it was really hitting people. Then, it really meant something — like it’s really hard to make an Asian film that feels true to lots and lots of Asian people and it makes them laugh and cry. I think that’s also a really special thing that it’s actually hitting the community. We would really love for it to mean something to [them].
Ashley Park: I’m so glad you got to see the different audiences too because I think that’s been one of the really fun things for us is to see it with different people, I think at South by Southwest, it was the first time we got to see it with a full audience all together. First of all, it was my first movie festival. I don’t think I really understood that we were going to be watching it with a full audience. The fact that it was that everybody was from a different demographic, age, and background. Everybody found community and were laughing at the same stuff, crying at the same moment. It really blew me away.
Also, I feel like these are some of my closest friends now and, for me, we’ve all been through something together. We made this genuinely and with so much heart and laughter that I forgot that this was a movie that we get to share with the world until I was like, “Oh, it’s a full movie.” It’s just been really exciting to see that everybody, whether the more specific we are with stuff and the more truthful we are, the more universal it gets. I’ve found by watching it with different kinds of audiences, groups and people, that I discover something new every time I watch it. That’s been really special.
Stephanie Hsu: I didn’t know how this movie was going to land and every single time we’ve gotten to watch it with an audience, I am absolutely floored at how titillated everybody was coming out. After every single screening, people were like,“Hheeyyyyyy! “And they’re Boo-tilitated [laughs]. But honestly, it really inspired me. I remember after South by, it made me really believe in the hard R and a summer movie [you’re] going to see with your friends and laughing with a group of people, a group of strangers. It’s really healing, really joyful. And I think we need to be “effervescent-ized” [laughs].
Q: How does the concept of a chosen family speak to you in this? Now we’re getting deep. No more tiltillated talk.
Sherry Cola: This is family. We just made something for the first time together and this film has been like an inside joke for a couple of years. Now we’re finally showing it to the world, which is thrilling. The themes of this film are friendship, discovering who you are and chosen family — you can’t get through life without special people next to you. It’s really, you know, it’s on screen and off screen.
Adele Lim: I’m glad you brought up the heart to all of this because we are this crazy, like super-fun batshit comedy. But at its heart, our heart is authentic and true. It’s not just about the Asian experience. All of us, our people came from somewhere, we came from somewhere. We all share this, which is the point in our journey. We felt like maybe this wasn’t for us, maybe we did not belong, maybe we had to prove ourselves a little extra just to fit in and feel like we had to do something to make ourselves feel worthy of the spaces we were in. One of the things that we explored in the movie, between all the butt jokes and the chlamydia was that thing of like when you find your people, you’re always home and that’s where we landed.
Ashley Park: With Adele and Cherry and Teresa, I loved the feedback and really appreciated that about them. In creating and writing it the most has been that people expect this, of course. They expect jokes and this raunch and outrageousness and the reason the jokes are so good in they land is because these are three smart women, they’re so smart. It’s witty, it’s there to propel the story forward. I think that’s when comedy lands the best and that’s when you can also open up people’s hearts to a more wholesome story.
In terms of chosen family, I think the magical moment for any kind of storyteller or artist is when something mirrors or opens up a part of your own personal life. I think that I always thought of a chosen family as well. I realize now that the chosen family is also that you need to know who you are because you can’t go about choosing the right way unless you really understand who you are and what you have to give. But it’s something like really recently, even after filming this movie too, I think this movie, being a part of it and being like in Audrey’s shoes really opened up my mind to, “Oh I got a say who I want to be in my chosen family” and that in itself is incredibly special and important.
Sherry Cola: It all comes back to Confucius, the crustacean. But I do want to say, have you ever seen Confucius in a crustacean in the same room? I do want to bring it back to the trust, with these three bad ass Asian women being our queens and guiding light. There was so much trust on set as the base that it felt like a safe space to play around and find so much magic in the heat of the moment. We just saw eye to eye in so many ways. It’s just a language that you don’t have to learn.
Q: Of course, it’s raunchy and all that. But also there are these moments about multigenerational narratives and, chlamydia aside, and all that good stuff aside. How do you think older generations will see this story, especially with our immigrant families, since they’re more conservative, obviously. But now we’re seeing this story, and it’s balanced with this super duper raunch, but also these really important stories that immigrant families wouldn’t normally share with each other.
Stephanie Hsu: There was a journalist yesterday who’s Latino but he said he brought his mother and she was howling the entire time, just like screaming [at the] randiness, having such a good time. He was almost embarrassed that his mother was having such an incredible experience. I do think when it comes to immigrant families, yes, of course, there’s cultural tendencies towards being conservative or more muted. A lot of that came from [being] immigrants making sure that they were safe. I think that came from a place of a defense mechanism, like, “Keep your head down, do good work so that you can thrive, survive, be safe and make it in this country.”
Sabrina Wu: I do think this movie is about a lot of things. But one thing is that why this movie is awesome, is [that] we’re Asian people but we’re also full of humans. I think that generosity should be extended to our parents and grandparents. It’s so easy to [dismiss] the entire population of immigrants, which is a large group of people. They’re all conservative and yet it’s like, they’re going to love this film. I watched “Bridesmaids” with my dad and mom. They absolutely love that scene where they’re all taking a dump in the street. There’s so much room for obviously all sorts of people to experience joy and laughter.
Ashley Park: It’s hard to generalize a group of people in any way. But in terms of that generalization about immigrant families, the whole reason [that] they work so hard. I think that’s the reason that reporter and his mom, she was able to laugh so hard is they’re working hard and maybe come across conservative or come across a certain way because they’re hoping that they can work hard enough so that people, their kids and so on can have the opportunity to laugh as hard as they do cause they didn’t have the time or energy to. Our hope is that this is a release for everybody and if that is as well, then that would be amazing.
Cherry Chevapravatdumrong: Have you all met Laurie Tan Chin?
Sherry Cola: You know, our precious grandma [in the film].
Cherry Chevapravatdumrong: The older generations — they all had like 10, 12 kids. They were also incredibly horny. They’re like, “Oh, I had 12 children.” They’re ready. Everyone was horny…
Q: Did you discover anything new about yourself throughout making this movie or learn anything from each other that you’ll take with you moving forward to other projects?
Alexander Hodge: My own experience on this was, that it was the first time that I had been a part of a project which had so many Asian people in executive positions and positions of power. I didn’t need to explain myself the way that I’ve had to on every other job. I realize there’s a certain ease that allows you to do your job — our job as actors — I take that shit everywhere I go, I’m not really into explaining myself anymore.
Rohain Arora: A lesson I took away is how important it is to show up. This has been an incredible experience. You challenge yourself — when you’re stuck, you move just like the characters, they have to go on a journey to find themselves. And for me, it’s been as much of a journey. I was at South by South and now I’m in LA. So it’s really important to show up and do courageous work.
Q: This question is for Adele, Teresa and Cherry. The movie is extremely funny and brings up thought-provoking statements but also manages to evoke emotions in its core. However, it also includes a large share of blatant sex jokes. Is this sort of a commentary?
Teresa Hsiao: Yes the sex jokes are funny. We put them in because we enjoy them. But, I think, the commentary is for a lot of R rated comedies that you’ve seen before. Oftentimes, they’ve been male-led, and female sexuality is played for sexiness. Whereas male sexuality, male nudity, is played for laughs, we kind of did the opposite here. We definitely wanted to play the female sexuality for laughs as well. That was something that we wanted to do. But underneath, there is a commentary that this is something that you haven’t seen before. Please enjoy it. Please laugh at our bodies as well. Thank you.
Cherry Chevapravatdumrong: Those are sort of a Trojan horse that we want to try to move in with our kind of crazy movie is that women are allowed to be raunchy, disgusting, sexy and sexual on their own terms — and that they’re doing this on their own terms. It’s like these guys here are there for Audrey’s pleasure. She has owned it completely. So, it’s two heads are better than one.
Q: What was the hardest scene to shoot without breaking character?
Sherry Cola: There were definitely multiple breakings and I was just holding back the laughter, specifically in the scene where we’re fighting in Korea and Seth [Rogen, the producer] is hysterically crying and screaming.
Ashley Park: I will also say, probably the scene when Deadeye meets us the first time that we had a hard time with. And then I think a scene that was cut in which you guys, it was Lolo’s audition scene, where we’re about to meet Kat — Sabrina was a total professional. As an adult I peed my pants, we caught most of the dialogue going in. But I say pussy, you say that because we couldn’t, I couldn’t stop laughing.
Q: Everyone played their roles like they were actually friends before they filmed “Joy Ride.” What did you do in order to capture that? Did you get away together?
Stephanie Hsu: We pretty well clicked intensely immediately. I remember for our first table read, we met in Ashley’s backyard and rehearsed the Wop number. We were like, “Sabrina, what tricks do you have?” And Sabrina just whipped out beatboxing and then we made the Wop song around that for the table read the next day. It was like immediately this hive-mind, group project. Then when we got to Vancouver, as Asians, what did we do — we ate! We just had amazing meals and broke bread and noodles together.
Ashley Park: We broke in to order at a restaurant like it was the first and last meal we’ve ever had.
Sherry Cola: Like the downtime where we’re just being ourselves without the cameras on and in our PJs and just reflecting, there were the moments that felt like this is when we did a real friendship.
Ashley Park: They cast it with all these amazing cameos and people coming in for their one to two to four days of work and just being so game and willing to get in their PJs be part of the family; so it was a really great [experience].
Here’s the Trailer of the film.