Movie Review: "Always Be My Maybe"
Always Be My Maybe
Sasha Tran (Ali Wong) and Marcus Kim (Randall Park) were best-friends throughout their childhood. The two did everything together. They studied together, played together, and Sasha even joined Marcus’ family for dinner when her own parents were working late. They were inseparable right up until they slept together one night as teenagers. After that, the two sort of just 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 is engaged to her emotionally distant fiancé (Daniel Dae Kim). She wants to open up a new restaurant in her hometown, so has moved back into the area 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
Ali Wong & Randall Park (+5pts)
The Plot & The Comedy (+4pts)
The Songs (-2pts)
Keanu Reeves (+4pts)
Pro: Ali Wong & Randall Park (+5pts)
Both of these actors did well with their respective parts. They have both proven their talent comedically, and they brought that talent to this movie. They also delivered in all of the story’s more dramatic and heartfelt moments. As a result, they gave their characters depth and gave the story heart. There was Ali Wong playing Sasha Tran, the celebrity chef. Then there was Randall Park playing Marcus Kim, a local repairman.
The two were childhood friends, but now their lives were very different, yet there was still something between them. The two played their parts well and had chemistry with one another, which made the potential romance work really well on-screen. A lot of what worked about this movie worked because of the two actors in these roles. Could others have done what they did effectively? Sure, but that should not take away from what they were able to bring to this movie.
Con: Aging (-2pts)
Always Be My Maybe was about two characters—Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim—at three different periods of their lives. First there were the childhood years, where the filmmakers got two young actors to play the young versions of Sasha and Marcus (Ashley Liao and Emerson Min, respectively). Then there were obviously the adult versions, where the two characters were played by Ali Wong and Randall Park. There was also, however, a third age group, and this is the one that I had issue with. The third age group showed the two characters in their older teenage years. Rather than cast a third pair of actors, the filmmakers just used Ali Wong and Randall Park, and dressed them as teenagers—braces and all. The two then had to act like teen-aged versions of their characters, and—while I thought they did the best they could—I do not think it worked.
It was pretty ridiculous, in a way that sort of 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. The ridiculous visual of these actors playing teenagers kind of let the air out of these scenes they were in, making them less impactful. I think part of the problem was that having to play teenagers for these scenes prevented the actors from being able to flesh out these scenes properly. Ultimately, this was not a major issue for the movie, but having the actors comedically playing teenagers through dramatic scenes limited the impact that the actors were able to deliver during those scenes.
Pro: The Plot & The Comedy (+4pts)
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 wanted to see them get together. 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. Then there was the comedy, which was never enough to get you rolling on the floor, but it made for a comedy that was entertaining enough. Neither the plot nor the comedy were exactly revolutionary, but both worked to an extent.
Con: The Songs (-2pts)
I understand that Marcus was a repairman by day, and that creating music was only his hobby. Knowing that, I do not think the songs he created should have been amazing, as that would raise questions regarding why creating songs and performing them was not his primary job. However, if the filmmakers wanted to show audience members enjoying the music to some extent, they should have made songs that were at least somewhat better than horrible. Every time he started performing a song, I would think to myself: okay, this one will probably be the good one.
Nonetheless, each time he performed one, it was just another terrible song. 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. I mean, really? "Tennis Ball" was his groups' best song?
Pro: Keanu Reeves (+4pts)
Keanu Reeves player himself—or at least a fictionalized version of himself—in this movie and it was simply excellent. In this movie, Keanu Reeves was sort of threw his weight around and was a 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. I would give examples of what I liked, but I really do not want to give it away, because you should really experience it for yourself. It was such a ridiculous part, but Keanu Reeves seemed to dive straight into it. The result was a really entertaining performance that worked really well for this movie.
Con: Predictable (-4pts)
This was one of those movies where you will know how it ends almost as soon as it begins. The plot was fine, but there were really no twists or turns along the way. It was a cookie-cutter romantic comedy, with all of the major plot points that you would expect it to have. You expect the two characters to meet, and you expect there to be a spark between them. You expect things to go really well at first, and you expect some conflict to happen that jeopardizes what the characters have going. You also expect to see both characters reflecting and realizing that their life is not the same without the other, and you expect them to get back together in the end.
All of that is what you expect from any romantic comedy. You will need to see the movie to find out how many of those predictions were accurate for this movie, but know that enough of them were, and it made the movie pretty predictable. It was honestly not a huge deal, as there were enough other things to like about the movie. However, the plot was definitely far from being one of this movie’s strengths.
Grade: B- (80pts)
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 predictability of the plot.
Ali Wong and Randall Park were entertaining comedically, but also delivered dramatically. Also despite the predictability of it, the plot of this story was effective, as it was easy to get invested in, and root for, the main characters. The comedy was also decent, and Keanu Reeves was absolutely excellent in his role. The movie was not great, but it had its moments and was entertaining enough for what it was.