The pair have great chemistry and the rest of the movie gives audiences a lot to like as it breathes a bit of new life into a genre that sometimes feels like it should have been left in the 1990s.
Because Always Be My Maybe was written by two clearly very intelligent comedians, it plays with as many of the genre’s tropes as it uses, presenting something of a new spin on the rom-com while giving viewers a really endearing story about love that feels warm and familiar.
With that in mind, where does it fit in the world of rom-com tropes? Here are five rom-com tropes that the movie breaks and five that it doesn't.
10 Breaks: Last chance for love
So often, one of the lead characters in a romantic comedy is on their last chance to find someone because apparently love is only for people under 30… In Always Be My Maybe, both characters are in relationships as the film starts and are by no means nearing the point of growing old with cats. Sasha is seen in more than one relationship - including with Keanu Reeves, who portrays a really great albeit smaller part in the movie.
There’s even a nice little additional storyline where Marcus’ father also goes on dates, reinforcing the idea that love isn’t reserved only for the young.
9 Doesn’t break: Men and women can't be friends
For a little minute, Always Be My Maybe feels like it may go another way than Sasha and Marcus getting together. Maybe they really had missed their chance and are destined to only be friends.
But, who are we kidding? It’s an unsurprising spoiler but in true rom-com style, the couple ends up together. What does make Always Be My Maybe different, however, is that while they do end up together, their relationship will always be based on them being friends rather than just a straight rejection that men and women can be friends.
8 Breaks: Opposites attract
Many romantic comedies start with the lead characters immediately disliking each other because they are so different. Then, over the course of the movie, they start an unlikely relationship and blah, blah, blah you know the rest.
Always Be My Maybe doesn’t do this at all. It reflects many peoples’ real relationships in which they need a complementary sense of humor. They also have the same sentiment towards their passions; hers is cooking while he is into music. These things are one of the great ways the film strays from rom-com tropes.
7 Doesn’t break: The Big Gesture
Sometimes it’s the man and sometimes it’s the woman - but more of often than not, romcoms involve a big gesture. Sometimes it’s a declaration of love, a life-changing epiphany or an over the top apology. But it’s always a gesture, and it’s always big.
Always Be My Maybe doesn’t buck this trend like it does other tropes. One of the main characters (we won’t say which) needs to turn up somewhere and do something to win the other protagonist over. Admittedly it’s not as big a gesture as many films (it’s not even in an airport) but it’s certainly there and it’s right at the point you’d expect it to be.
6 Breaks: The Meet-Cute
The meet-cute is one of the genre's worst tropes because it tends to feel incredibly contrived. In real life, people meet at school, through mutual friends or, in 2019, on the internet.
In Always Be My Maybe, Sasha and Marcus are friends from a young age. There’s no chance encounter on the Empire State Building or anything silly like that. In fact, the movie doesn’t even show how they meet. It just quickly establishes that there exist a close relationship and mutual understanding between the two.
5 Doesn’t break: The best friend sidekick
Often a point of exposition about how they’re feeling, rom-com protagonists always have a best friend. They’re usually sassy, sometimes comic relief, and always ready to dole out some advice. The best friend is more of a storytelling device that lets the characters explain their thought processes. They’re just much more evident in a film of this genre.
In Always Be My Maybe, Sasha’s best friend Veronica is the archetypal friend while Marcus has his dad and bandmates that offer support in a few different scenes. At least the film doesn’t have them playing pickup basketball or drinking wine while snuggled up on a couch.
4 Breaks: The Makeover
At no point do either Marcus or Sasha need to change themselves to get the other person to find them attractive and that’s one of the most reality-affirming aspects of the movie. They are who they are, they work that way and neither of them needs to make themselves into somebody else.
The idea of only being able to impress someone by looking completely different - usually without glasses, in great clothes, a load of make-up, and different hair - is an outdated trope of the rom-com genre. This is especially true when you consider that we’re living in a world where there are more body positivity advocates than ever.
3 Doesn’t break: The false start
As a rom-com couple gets together, they last a few weeks in pure bliss before someone does something wrong or a lie comes out that everyone saw coming. This is essentially the beginning of the genre's standard third act - and it’s usually (always) leads to the big gesture.
Always Be My Maybe has not one, but two false starts where the couple finally ends up together but need to find their way back to each other. The first is right at the beginning of the film and second towards its conclusion. This is a nice play on the idea as it shows a much more realistic relationship that endures hardship rather than the perfect coupling that just struggled to get started.
2 Breaks: Only white people fall in love
More often than not, the people at heart of romcoms are a white couple - especially if you look at the 1990s heyday of the genre. Always Be My Maybe is a love story about an Asian-American couple that bucks the trend that only Caucasians find love.
While Crazy Rich Asians did something similar last year, Always Be My Maybe is a film that’s not inherently about the couple being Asian. The cultural influences in the movie are much more about the American success story because that’s where the couple has grown up. This is much more a story about a couple coming together to fall in love - they just both happen to be Asian.
1 Doesn’t break: The happy ending
We hate to be the breaker of bad news but like every single rom-com ever, Always Be My Maybe has a happy ending. After their tribulations, Sasha and Marcus come back together following a big gesture and the final credits play over their happy life together after the movie’s main story arc.
This has to be the end to a rom-com - there’s no argument. If the couple didn’t end up together, or somehow find happiness, the film wouldn’t be a romantic comedy. It would be a dark comedy that’s not in the least bit romantic. Thanks to the couple’s chemistry, Always Be My Maybe’s ending is a really satisfying one for audiences.