I’ll be quite honest, I suggested this film just so I could watch THE VERY SPECIAL CELEBRITY CAMEO segment again – it is pure perfection. But more on that momentarily.
The film itself is pretty standard fare but its depiction of American-Asian culture is joyous. These details are not shown nearly enough on the big screen and I’m here for it. We’ve done the white experience a millions times. Which reminds me of Jordan Peele’s vow to keep using his position to explore stories that aren’t led by white people.
A pair of childhood friends end up falling for each other when they grow up.
There’s Always Been Something Between Them.
Marcus Kim (Park) and Sasha Tran (Wong) are childhood BFFs who do everything together. Sasha’s parents are largely absent but what she doesn’t get from her own family, she gets from the Kims, who live next door. While she and Marcus are besties, Sasha is very close to Mrs Kim, who teaches her all about authentic Korean cuisine.
Tragedy strikes when Mrs Kim passes away suddenly when the pair are teenagers. As Marcus grieves for his mother, Sasha comforts him and they end up having sex in the back of his car. Unfortunately, Marcus lashes out at Sasha shortly afterwards and the pair stop being friends. Sasha eventually moves away from their hometown of San Francisco and they never see each other again.
LOL. That would be a short review, wouldn’t it?
As with any great Rom Com, that is so not the end of it. In 2019, Sasha is a celebrity chef, engaged to world-renowned restaurateur Brandon Choi (Daniel Dae Kim). Things are all looking groovy until Brandon suggests a separation in the lead up to the wedding. He believes this will help them really appreciate one another and be sure they’re doing the right thing (SURE, BRANDON).
The ‘break’ coincides with Sasha’s return to the Bay Area to oversee the opening of a new restaurant. With assistant/pal Veronica (Michelle Buteau) in tow, Sasha returns to her old stomping ground and would you believe it? By chance meets Marcus and his father again. Marcus has never left San Fran, instead opting to stay on as his widowed father’s carer. The pair have a heat and air business – and Marcus is also the front-man of a very good but not very successful band on the side – Hello Peril.
Little by little the friendship flourishes again and Sasha also joins the dating pool, after dumping Brandon Choi once and for all. Marcus has a girlfriend called Jenny (the brilliant Vivian Bang) who his friends don’t particularly like – and no-one is more dubious about Jenny than Harry (James Saito), Marcus’ sexy dad – and all because of Sasha Tran. Pa has clocked his son’s true feelings, even before Marcus has.
*Bit of a bigger spoiler here*
Unfortunately, Marcus has to get past one Keanu Reeves before he can get into Sasha’s heart.
NB: It occurs to me only this morning that maybe I should have been a bit more discreet about this surprise appearance, especially since it’s absolutely the highlight. So I’ve added extra spoiler warnings.
Sasha and Neo are enjoying a steamy fling – and let me just assure you that this whole section is magic. As KR reveals himself to be wonderfully kooky and a bit of a douche, Marcus’ true feelings become more obvious. Will the most bizarre double date in cinematic history (probably) result in something really good?
Well of course it will.
But you didn’t think it would be that easy, did you? Marcus doesn’t naturally fit into the same circles as Sasha and when she has to return home to NYC, he’s not keen to follow. He doesn’t like the work events he’s required to attend, he doesn’t like holding Sasha’s clutch bag and he sure as shit doesn’t like being referred to as an ‘ordinary guy’. This leads to fights and ultimately, the pair part ways again.
Will this prompt Marcus to really examine his life choices? Will losing Sasha be the push he needs to take more chances with his art, accept that his father doesn’t really need a carer and take a giant leap of faith for once in his life? We’ll see. But yes.
Again, this film is formulaic but it has a lot more heart that 80% of romantic comedies and the more I watch the more I like it. Both leads are likable but not too saccharine and you can totally buy them as a couple. The supporting characters, including Sasha’s parents, Marcus’ dad and band mates – and dread-locked Jenny are so much fun. Jenny is a real highlight in the Keanu scenes as her reactions are all of us.
Again, I love all the little nods to Asian tradition and authenticity, and there’s a gorgeously touching tribute made to Mrs Kim right at the very end that gave me a lump in my throat.
I recommend this movie stat if you have a free Saturday afternoon. There are worse ways to spend 1 hour 42. Oh and also, did I mention Keanu?
What does Wifey think of this week’s pick? Would she leave in alone in Burger King never to speak to it again – or hold its bag forever? Find out here.