Review by J.T. Johnson
I just want to go on the record now by saying how much I hate romantic comedies. They just aren’t my particular cup of tea and most of the time, their manufactured “charm” doesn’t work for me. So, it really means something when I say that Netflix’s “Always Be My Maybe” absolutely charmed my socks off.
Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park) were best friends as kids after Marcus invited the neglected Sasha into his home as children. Marcus’ parents Judy (Susan Park) and Harry (James Saito) warm up to Sasha and Judy even gives Sasha her love of cooking. Unfortunately, when the two are 18, Judy dies in an accident. In their grief, Sasha and Marcus sleep together, but they soon have a falling out and don’t see each other for the next 16 years.
Sasha has moved on to bigger and better things, having become a world famous chef while Marcus remained in San Francisco working for his father. When Sasha has to open a new restaurant in San Francisco, her and Marcus meet again and while there is still something between the two, their different lifestyles may get in the way of what could be a great relationship.
Before I go on with what I liked about this film, I should state that the movie does not change the romcom formula. The story merely adheres to it and makes it work in its favor. I mentioned earlier that the charm often found in other romcoms feels manufactured and, as a result, unreal.
Thankfully, that is not the case with this film. Wong and Park’s chemistry is absolutely off the charts. When I say that their chemistry works, I don’t mean that it works only when the romance is turned on. It’s also there when they have falling outs and disagreements and even their low moments feel as genuine as their highs.
Another thing that works is that they are also incredibly funny in the movie as well. Park’s deadpan delivery of the things he doesn’t like and when he’s confused about the situation he’s in is pitch perfect. Wong is also great as the headstrong character that also uses her strength to shield her from her true feelings and Wong never betrays the character with false moments of strength or sentimentality.
Of course, any good romcom also has to have a good supporting cast as well. This film is no different and two performers that I want to point out is Saito as Marcus’ caring father Harry and Michelle Buteau as the hilarious Veronica, Sasha’s personal assistant and best friend. Buteau adds plenty of additional laughs as the pregnant Veronica who calls it like she sees it and Saito is also great as the straight forward Harry who doesn’t seem to have a filter when asking certain questions such as how much money does Sasha have or simply asking why Marcus and Sasha never ended up together.
Then there is an absolutely hilarious extended cameo by Keanu Reeves that I must point out. In this film, he is playing a pretentious, over-the-top version of himself. I don’t want to say anymore, but his appearance is almost worth it alone to see the film.
It has been a long time since I’ve seen a romcom that I actually enjoyed and I’m surprised that this film didn’t get a theatrical release. While embracing the romcom formula, both Wong and Parks (who also co-wrote the film with Michael Golamco) have created a funny and heartfelt movie that would be hard for anyone not to enjoy.