There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Sasha Tran (Ali Wong) and Marcus Kim (Randall Park) were best-friends through childhood. The two did everything together. They studied together, they played together, and Sasha even joined Marcus’ family for dinner whenever her own parents were working late. They were inseparable right up until they slept together one night as teenagers. After that, the two just sort of went their separate ways.
Now, Sasha is a very successful chef with her own five-star restaurants. She has become somewhat of a celebrity through her success, and she is engaged to her emotionally distant fiancé (Daniel Dae Kim). She wants to open up a new restaurant in her hometown, so she has moved back temporarily. That is when she runs into Marcus, who now works as a repairman. The two catch up and reminisce, but tensions rise when they relive the events that led to them going their separate ways.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Ali Wong & Randall Park (+4pts)
The Plot & The Comedy (+4pts)
The Songs (-2pts)
Keanu Reeves (+3pts)
Pro: Ali Wong & Randall Park (+4pts)
Both of these actors did well in their respective roles. Both Ali Wong and Randall Park have proven their comedic talents, and they brought those talents to this movie. They also delivered in all of the story’s more dramatic and heartfelt moments. They gave their characters depth and they gave the story heart, which was huge for a rom-com such as this one.
The two characters were childhood friends, but they now lived very different lives and they still had some romantic tension between them. It was very much a typical storyline between the two characters, but Ali Wong and Randall Park had decent enough chemistry together, and they hit all the drama and comedy that the story needed them to. Could others have played these parts just as effectively? Sure, but Ali Wong and Randall Park still made it work.
Con: Aging (-2pts)
This movie was about Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim at three different periods in their lives. First there were the childhood years, in which the filmmakers got two young actors to play the young versions of Sasha (Ashley Liao) and Marcus (Emerson Min), but this was not the age group that I had issue with. Then there were obviously the adult versions of the characters, played by Ali Wong and Randall Park, but they were obviously fine as well. It was instead the third age group that I had issue with, and it was the main characters‘ teenaged years. Rather than cast a third pair of actors, the filmmakers decided to use Ali Wong and Randall Park, and they just dressed the two actors as teenagers—braces and all. Ali Wong and Randall Park had to act like teen-aged versions of their characters, and while I thought they did the best they could, I did not think it worked.
It was pretty ridiculous, and it distracted from everything else that was happening on screen. It would have been fine if the teen-aged scenes were only meant for laughs, but that was not the case. Instead, some of the more dramatic moments of this movie occurred during the teen-aged scenes, and those dramatic moments fell very flat because of how dumb the characters looked. This was not a major issue, but the horrible de-aging honestly took me out of the movie, and it greatly diminished the impact of the dramatic scenes from that time period.
Pro: The Plot & The Comedy (+3pts)
The plot of this movie was predictable—I will get into that later—but it was easy to get invested in. I wanted to see the two main characters figure out their issues, and I wanted to see them get together by the end of the story. While I had a pretty good guess as to whether or not that last part would happen, I still cared about the characters enough to want to see it through to the end anyway. Then there was the comedy, which was never enough to get me rolling on the floor laughing, but there were definitely some funny moments scattered throughout. Neither the plot nor the comedy were exactly revolutionary, but both were decent enough, as the plot kept me at least somewhat invested, and the comedy kept me at least somewhat amused.
Con: The Songs (-2pts)
I understood that Marcus was a repairman by day, and that creating music was only his hobby. Knowing that, I did not think the songs he created should have been amazing, as that would have raised questions regarding why he was not more successful at it. Every time he started performing a song, I kept thinking he would finally deliver a good one, but it was just one intolerable song after another. This was not a major issue, as his musical ability did not have any impact on the overall story, but if the filmmakers wanted to suggest that anyone could have liked these songs, they should have at least put in the effort to make them decent. Tennis Ball" was his groups' greatest hit, and it was a horrible song that sounded like it was written by a child, but nonetheless, crowds seemed to love it, and it honestly took me out of the movie.
Pro: Keanu Reeves (+4pts)
Keanu Reeves played himself—or at least a fictionalized version of himself—and it was simply excellent. He was an antagonistic bully of sorts, as he used peer pressure to get his way. He was also a competitive thrill-seeker—attempting any dare or challenge set before him, no matter how ridiculous. He played a pretty minor role in this story, as he was temporarily competing for Sasha’s affection, but his role was memorable because of how funny it was. The things get said, the things he did, and the things he was willing to do for a thrill made this a really entertaining character that came entirely out of left field. It was such a ridiculous part, but Keanu Reeves dove straight into it with all of his charm and charisma, making it a really entertaining performance that had me laughing even after the movie was over.
Con: Predictable (-6pts)
This was a cookie-cutter romantic comedy, with all of the major plot points that you would expect it to have. I expected the two characters to meet, and I expected there to be a spark between them. I expected things to go really well at first, and I expected some conflict to happen that jeopardized what the characters had going for them. I also expected to see both characters reflecting and realizing that their life was not the same without the other, and I expected them to get back together in the end. All of that is what you would expect from any generic romantic comedy, and that was exactly what this movie was. You will need to see the movie to find out how many of my expectations were spot on, but know that enough of them were, and it made this a very pretty predictable romantic comedy. It was honestly exactly what I expected after seeing the trailer, but the predictable plot was definitely one of this movie’s weaknesses.
Grade: C+ (76pts)
Always Be My Maybe had about as predictable a plot as you would expect a romantic comedy to have. It checked almost every box on the imaginary check list, but its problems did not stop there. The filmmakers also took a bad approach to portraying the teen-aged versions of the main characters, and Marcus’ songs were absolutely horrible. Fortunately, these were mostly minor issues—except for maybe the predictable plot.
Ali Wong and Randall Park were entertaining comedically, but they also delivered dramatically. Then despite the predictability of it, the plot was still able to get me at least somewhat invested in the main characters. The comedy was also decent, and Keanu Reeves was an absolute comedic joy. The movie was not great, but it had its moments and it was entertaining enough for what it was.