If you love a raunchy road trip comedy, Joy Ride is for you! Join four unlikely friends as they embark on a once-in-a-lifetime international adventure, where they’ll do a bunch of drugs with a stranger, sleep their way through a basketball team, impersonate K-pop stars, and more – all in the name of boosting a woman’s law career and helping her reconnect with her biological family.

When Audrey’s business trip to Asia goes sideways, she enlists the aid of Lolo, her irreverent, childhood best friend who also happens to be a hot mess; Kat, her college friend turned Chinese soap star; and Deadeye, Lolo’s eccentric cousin. Their no-holds-barred, epic experience becomes a journey of bonding, friendship, belonging, and wild debauchery that reveals the universal truth of what it means to know and love who you are.

The movie stars Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu. It also features appearances by Ronny Chieng, Lori Tan Chinn, David Denman, Annie Mumolo, Desmond Chiam, Alexander Hodge, and Chris Pang. Joy Ride comes from writers Cherry Chevapravadumrong, Teresa Hsiao, and Adele Lim, who also directs.

Meet the women leading your Joy Ride

Joy Ride centers around Audrey (Ashley Park), a high-achieving, ultra-responsible career woman working at a fancy law firm. Her childhood best friend, Lolo (Sherry Cola) is her polar opposite: a go-with-the-flow, sex-positive artist. When Audrey’s company sends her to China to seal a major business deal, she brings Lolo along as her personal translator. 

Then Lolo invites her terminally online, K-pop-loving, chaotic cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu) to travel with them. Once the trio land abroad, they meet up with Audrey’s college friend Kat (Stephanie Hsu), an actor and former wild child who’s now pretending to be a Good Christian Girl to fit her long-term boyfriend’s expectations.

What could go wrong, right?

Plenty of raunchy road trip shenanigans and more

Despite being an R-rated comedy, Joy Ride actually hits on quite a few serious topics, diving into different Asian identities (and Asian-American identities), cultural norms and expectations, adoption, and the bonds of family and friendship. But it wraps the whole package up in goofy hijinks, sex jokes, drug- and alcohol-fueled benders, travel mishaps, and more, so you have a great time from start to finish.

In the movie, Audrey tries desperately to make the right impression on Chao (Chieng) and convince him to do business with her firm. But she overdoes it drinking with him and his pals at a nightclub, and makes matters worse by only speaking English. When Chao starts waxing poetic about the importance of family, Lolo jumps in to talk about Audrey’s close connection to her biological mother… But in reality, Audrey doesn’t know anything about her Chinese parents, since she was adopted into a white American family when she was just a baby. Now, to secure the deal with Chao – and cover up Lolo’s lie – she and her friends have to find a way to locate her biological mother.

Are you thinking, easier said than done? You’d be right. The simple trip abroad quickly spirals out of control, as the women accidentally tangle with a drug dealer, lose their passports, hitchhike, visit family, and plot to evade border control on their quest. But as tensions rise and personalities clash, this girls’ trip becomes a powder keg just waiting to blow.

Just the right amount of heart tying everything together

Though the laughs come from the slapstick hijinks and raunchy jokes, the emotional undercurrent of Joy Ride helps tie everything together. As you would expect from this kind of movie, the big turning point happens when the four friends have a falling out. The storyline with Audrey trying to find her biological mother and connect to her roots is also really impactful. (A few people watching when I did actually cried – not something you can say about a lot of comedies like this!) You’re undoubtedly watching Joy Ride for the laughs, but these emotional beats really help the audience connect to these women and what they’re going through at this time in their lives. 

What can I say? It’s a joy to watch

If you like movies like Girls Trip or The Hangover, Joy Ride is right up your alley. I don’t want to get too spoilery about the individual moments that make this movie so fun, because it’s more fun to experience them for yourself. Suffice it to say I laughed a lot and had a great time watching, from K-pop “WAP” to slap games to a tattoo reveal I won’t forget any time soon. You’ll gasp, you’ll laugh, you’ll enjoy the ride.