By Danielle Broadway and Rollo Ross
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – When actress Stephanie Hsu realized there were no limits to how outrageous she could be in the film “Joy Ride,” she was confident it was going to be a “good time.”
Director Adele Lim, a co-writer for “Crazy Rich Asians,” was similarly grateful that no one ever told her that the raunchy U.S. comedy, which arrives in theaters on Friday, was “too much.”
“To be so unhinged actually does take a lot of craft but it’s really rare that you can just let it all hang out and find ways to go harder and harder and harder and more extreme,” said Hsu, a 2023 Oscar best supporting actress nominee for her role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
“Joy Ride” follows childhood friends Audrey and Lolo, who are joined by Lolo’s cousin Deadeye and Audrey’s former college roommate Kat as they embark on a wild journey to China to find Audrey’s birth mother.
It features an all-Asian main cast with queer and non-binary actors that introduce multi-faceted characters who reach beyond racial or gender stereotypes.
Alongside Hsu as Kat, the Lionsgate movie, which debuted at the 2023 South by Southwest film festival, features “Emily in Paris” star Ashley Park as Audrey Sullivan, Sherry Cola as Lolo and Sabrina Wu as Deadeye.
“This is led by three women and me, and it’s awesome. We definitely throw the patriarchy around in a way that is awesome,” said Wu, who is non-binary. The film is aimed at “all humans,” Wu added.
One of the most rewarding things for many in the cast is knowing that the R-rated movie is not boxed in by assumptions that every Asian character has the same outlook on their identity.
“I think people like to just kind of lump us all into one,” Hsu said.
“I think what makes this film even more special on so many other levels other than it’s the first of its kind for the Asian community is also this intersection of gender queerness that feels valuable and important and that we haven’t seen before.”
(Reporting by Danielle Broadway and Rollo Ross; Editing by Mary Milliken and Rosalba O’Brien)