Netflix's Always Be My Maybe is a charming, laugh out loud romantic comedy, bolstered by its leads' performances, and perfect for fans of the genre.
The last few years have seen a major revival of the romantic comedy movie genre, and Netflix has been integral to it. While Hollywood is still a little reluctant to theatrically release rom-coms, Netflix has vastly increased the number of romantic comedies it develops. The latest of these is Always Be My Maybe, an excellent addition to Netflix's originals slate with a rom-com about two childhood friends who reconnect as adults. The film stars Ali Wong and Randall Park, who also served as co-writers alongside Michael Golamco (Akira), and it's the feature-length directorial debut of Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off the Boat). Netflix's Always Be My Maybe is a charming, laugh out loud romantic comedy, bolstered by its leads' performances, and perfect for fans of the genre.
Always Be My Maybe follows Sasha Tran (Wong) and Marcus Kim (Park), who were neighbors as children and became close friends after Marcus invited Sasha over for dinner when the latter's parents weren't home. However, a rift arises between the two after high school and they go 16 years without talking to one another. When they reconnect, Sasha is a massively successful celebrity chef engaged to her manager, Brandon Choi (Daniel Dae Kim), who returns to her hometown of San Francisco to open a new restaurant, while Marcus is still living at home, playing with his same band from high school and working with his father, Harry (James Saito). Sasha and Marcus live two very different lives and, although they resume their friendship from childhood, it remains to be seen if they'll be able to make a romantic relationship work.
The premise of Always Be My Maybe is a classic second chance romance setup, wherein the main characters get a second chance at love after something went wrong the first time around. Because it's such a well-worn storyline, Always Be My Maybe effectively taps into the comfort of a standard rom-com. The movie's ending may be entirely expected, but viewers don't watch rom-coms to be surprised; instead, they watch for the stories about how love conquers all. In that regard, Always Be My Maybe is a successful rom-com, nailing all the standard beats, while still offering a fresh perspective. Romantic comedies are a notoriously homogenous genre of film, and Always Be My Maybe brings some much-needed diversity with a pair of Asian-American leads. Always Be My Maybe blends typical rom-com tropes with fresh ideas, offering a movie that fits well within the genre with enough originality to stand out.
Much of that originality comes from the duo of Wong and Park, who had a major hand in Always Be My Maybe as its co-writers with Golamco, in addition to acting as producers on the film. Both are veterans of comedy, with Wong having two successful Netflix stand-up specials and Park starring in Khan's Fresh Off the Boat. They each bring their brand of humor to Always Be My Maybe and blend it seamlessly, with Park excelling as the charmingly oafish slacker Marcus and Wong as the driven and passionate Sasha. Always Be My Maybe works because of Park and Wong and their on-screen chemistry, but the movie is further bolstered by its supporting cast, including Michelle Buteau as Sasha's friend Veronica and Karan Soni as Marcus' bandmate. Still, the real scene stealer is Keanu Reeves in a small role as himself (yes, seriously), that paves the way for some of the film's most hilarious moments, while still being integral to the story. Always Be My Maybe has assembled an impressive cast who work well together to bring the movie to life.
Ultimately, Always Be My Maybe is a solidly hilarious rom-com that further helps to revitalize the genre. The romantic comedies released in the last year or so have pushed the boundaries on what we expect, either in terms of telling stories about non-white characters or by toying with the conventions of the genre. Always Be My Maybe falls into the former category, rather than the latter, telling a story about two Asian-American characters from the perspective of Asian-American writers and a West Asian-American director. The movie puts a fresh perspective on rom-coms, offering viewers something they haven't quite seen before, even as much of the plot taps into classic tropes of the genre.
As a result, Always Be My Maybe will appeal to fans of the genre and general Netflix audiences alike. In fact, it's a step above many of the Netflix Originals the streaming service releases with little fanfare. So those looking for a rom-com, or a comedy of any kind to watch on Netflix, will do well to check out Always Be My Maybe. It's an incredibly funny addition to the romantic comedy genre, from some of the most irreverent voices in comedy today. And while it includes plenty of originality so as to stand out from other films, it still provides the comfortingly familiar entertainment of a rom-com. Netflix's Always Be My Maybe isn't a maybe-watch, it's a must-watch.
Always Be My Maybe is now streaming on Netflix. It is 101 minutes long and rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug use/references, and language.
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