Always Be My Maybe

Logline: Childhood friends Sasha and Marcus have a falling out and don’t speak for 16 years but when she returns to her hometown, they reconnect, old sparks fly, and they wonder…maybe?

I’ve been excited about many movie premieres, but there’s something special about seeing a flick in which the lead actors LOOK LIKE YOU.

I’m talking about diversity in the film industry, and more specifically, Asian American actors in the new Netflix romantic comedy Always Be My Maybe.

Hooray for Ali Wong and Randall Park! Kudos to Neflix!

As someone who is multicultural (Filipina-American/Mexican-American), I was thrilled about the record-smashing, box office success of Crazy Rich Asians last year. So when I saw the promo for Always Be My Maybe, I could barely contain my glee.

The story opens with Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim as childhood friends and next-door neighbors, transitions to them in high school (leading to the catalyst for the breakup of their friendship), then picks up years later when the two are settled into their (very different) adult lives.

I loved the chemistry between the two leads, and between Sasha and her sassy best friend, Veronica (a radiant Michelle Buteau). I loved the wit; the band name Hello Peril is a reference to the historical, racist term “yellow peril.”

The plot moves quickly with lots of conflict and lots of laughs, as well as poignant scenes between Marcus and his compassionate, down-to-earth father (James Saito). Director Nahnatchka Khan deftly maneuvers the talent through a film that shifts smoothly from tenderness to guffaw-inducing camp to swoony romance.

A cameo by a well-known actor playing himself is hilarious; what a good sport to make fun of himself and the celebrity A-list actors must surely struggle with. Supporting actors Daniel Dae Kim and Vivian Bang turn in amusing performances as the opportunistic (Kim) and wacky (Bang) one-dimensional significant others of Sasha and Marcus.

Except for one scene that turns weird, dark and violent (the story goes off the rails for a few minutes), Always Be My Maybe is a delightful, feel-good movie about friendship, grief, recognizing your soul mate, and second chances. I highly recommend it.

One last note: American audiences are finally ready for rom-coms starring Asian American lead actors, and real-life friends Ali Wong and Randall Park have, after many years, succeeded in making their version of When Harry Met Sally. Hooray!

Women at the helm: Directed by Nahnatchka Khan. Screenplay by three people; one is a woman: Ali Wong. Produced by seven people; two are women: Erin Westerman, Ali Wong.

  • Romantic Comedy
  • PG-13
  • Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Rating (out of 5): ♥♥♥♥

Katherine Valdez laments the proliferation of trailers and movie reviews that give away the plot.

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(Click here for an index of movies reviewed)

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