Always Be My Maybe, Netflix’s most recent rom-com, premiered on May 31st, and if you haven’t already watched it this weekend, you should definitely make time to remedy that ASAP.
The movie stars Ali Wong and Randall Park, who also wrote the film together, and whose friendship dates back years, back to when both were doing stand-up in the Bay Area in the mid-2000s.
It’s directed by Nahnatchka Khan, who created Don’t Trust The B In Apartment 23, as well as Fresh Off The Boat, the ABC sitcom in which Park stars as Louis Huang opposite Constance Wu.
The movie focuses on Sasha and Marcus, two childhood friends who had a falling out and stopped speaking for years, only to reconnect after Marcus and his dad are hired to install air-conditioning at Sasha’s San Francisco home.
A lot is made of the different paths they took in life – Sasha became a successful celebrity chef, while Marcus still lives at home with his dad – and a lot of the tension between them is a result of the disparities in their incomes, interests and life goals.
A key theme of the movie is food – obviously, since Sasha is a chef – and how food not only brings Sasha and Marcus together, but also highlights the disparities between the directions their lives have taken.
Writing for Vice, Bettina Makalintal observes:
“To say that food brings people together is an easy narrative, but Always Be My Maybe doesn’t fall into that. Instead, it allows food to also be a point of disagreement and a stumbling block, highlighting their divisions in money, ambition, and success—at some points, food undermines the possibility of a relationship.”
The film includes several exciting cameos – Daniel Dae Kim plays Sasha’s lacklustre fiance/manager, and Keanu Reeves plays himself on an incredibly uncomfortable and bizarre double date with Sasha, Marcus and Marcus’ girlfriend, Jenny. (Read about just how much Keanu improvised in this interview with Ali in Rolling Stone, he is low-key a comedic genius.)
While the basic narrative – childhood friends/crushes reuniting later in life – is a familiar one, Wong and Park use their comedic abilities and personal history to great effect, making Sasha and Marcus’ relationship feel wonderfully natural and realistic, and it makes the film incredibly enjoyable to watch.
Always Be My Maybe is the latest in a long line of Netflix romcoms – To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Someone Great, Sierra Burgess Is A Loser, Set It Up, heck, even A Christmas Prince – and the latest in a shorter line of Hollywood films with majority-Asian casts – primarily Crazy Rich Asians and Always Be My Maybe. It’s a welcome addition to both of these genres, and this is the kind of romcom I’d like to see more of from Netflix – heartwarming, entertaining, and authentic.