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Joy Ride is the new Superbad for a different generation

In the summer of the sex comedy, Joyride is a standout. We sat down with co-writers Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsaio to talk about the movie’s funniest moments. Continue reading…



In a summer where the raunchy sex comedy is attempting to make a comeback at the box office, Joy Ride stands out. Not only because it features Asian Americans in front of and behind the camera – something we rarely, if ever, see when it comes to a summer movie – but when considering what happens in the film, it’s hard to picture a world where AI could come up with moments as shocking, vulgar, and outright funny as a woman achieving climax via a massage gun and a basketball.

Joy Ride, which was released in theaters this past weekend, follows a quartet of Asian Americans: Audrey (Ashley Park), a young lawyer traveling to China for the first time since she was adopted by her white, American parents, her childhood best friend, the sex-obsessed, sex-positive artist, Lolo (Sherry Cola), her college roommate Kat (Everything Everywhere All at Once’s Stephanie Hsu), a beloved Chinese drama star known for her innocence and purity, and Lolo’s nonbinary, K-pop stanning cousin Deadeye, who threatens to steal every scene they’re in. Together, the group ventures across China to find Audrey’s birth mother in order to secure a business deal that will make her a partner at her firm.

Read more: The Spectacular Now: 10 years later with director James Ponsoldt

Throughout their journey across the Middle Kingdom, things don’t go as planned as Audrey’s search for who she is turns into a drug fiasco on a train that leaves the group stranded and incredibly high, a rendezvous with a basketball legend, and a viral incident that threatens to destroy both careers and friendships. 

The film, which balances moments of uproarious, horny humor with moments of heart and sincerity, has been shocking and surprising audiences since it premiered at SXSW in March. Hours before the film’s LA premiere, Alternative Press got the chance to speak to co-writers and producers Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsaio, long time friends who have worked together previously on Family Guy and Awkwafina is Nora from Queens, to discuss what inspired some of the biggest moments of their feature film debut, how they think their parents will react to seeing the film for the first time, and yes, “that” tattoo. 

There’s no other place we can truly start other than the tattoo. Was it always going to be that design or were there other options? 

CHERRY CHEVAPRAVATDUMRONG: I think we landed on that very quickly. It came out of Kat’s whole religious turn, so we thought, “What is the antithesis of that?”

TERESA HSAIO: A giant, scary devil tattoo.

CHEVAPRAVATDUMRONG: That was the dream. That was the vision.

What was your reaction when you actually got to see it for the first time?

Hsaio: Obviously, we wanted it to be big and we wanted it to be shocking. I think maybe we were prepared for it to be a little underwhelming, but once we saw it we both felt that this is gonna work; this moment is gonna be big. And it was.

CHEVAPRAVATDUMRONG: Seeing it in person, we were honestly thinking, Oh my god! What a good makeup job. This was art to me, honestly. It was just gorgeous. Shout out to our makeup artist Naomi Bakstad and our body double Felicia. Amazing, amazing job.

The big reveal happens at the end of an impromptu musical performance that takes place in an airplane hangar, where the group performs “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. Was the plan to always use that song or were there contingency plans if, for some reason, you couldn’t get clearance for it?

HSAIO: We always knew there was going to be a big K-pop performance. It was sort of late in the process of throwing out ideas for what song they would perform, and “WAP” came up, and we all agreed that if we can get the song, this is gonna be the song. Luckily for us, our incredible music supervisor Toko Nagata got in touch with [Atlantic] and got the song very quickly as music clearances usually take a really long time. So thankfully we didn’t actually have to come up with a backup plan.

While not as shocking as the tattoo, another moment that we’re sure will get a reaction out of people, or at least those that know sports, is the appearance of former Golden State Warrior and New York Knick Baron Davis, whose team bus picks up the group after they get kicked out of a train in the middle of nowhere. There have been a number of NBA players who have gone on play in China. How did you get Baron Davis to come onboard? 

HSAIO: We just thought it’d be funny to have a real NBA player show up because it’s a very real thing that so many great players have gone to play in China later in their careers, and just crush it out there. We went through the list of all the guys who’ve gone over there and while Baron I don’t think actually ended up playing in Asia, he was someone who, not only was incredibly funny, but had acting chops as well. So when his name came up, we’re like, “Oh, yes, absolutely.” We were so lucky that Baron was game to do it.

CHEVAPRAVATDUMRONG: And he was just so funny, just him and Sherry in their scene together, improvising together. He was amazing.

joy ride cast


[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]

This all started as ideas you both, along with Adele Lim, the director, would come up with while having dinner. Ideas that would come out of your mouths and end up slapped on a whiteboard, not taking it seriously at first. When did it become real for you both?

HSAIO: When Cherry and I decided that we will actually write this thing. Once we actually started putting words on paper. It definitely changed from just us having fun to this being an actual thing that other people will read, and will want to produce and hopefully make. 

The first half of the film closes with Audrey finding out about her birth mother, learning that she is in fact, not Chinese, but actually Korean. Was the twist about her birth place and nationality always there?

HSAIO: Yes, that was always part of Audrey’s journey. We always knew there were going to be big moments, and along the way, a lot of set pieces were changed, but the emotional crux of the story was always the same.

This is a movie that’s obviously going to appeal to Asians, particularly Asian women, because a movie like this doesn’t come around very often. While writing this, did you ever have the idea that Joy Ride could be for young Asians what a movie like Superbad was for white kids in the suburbs?

HSAIO: The thought crossed our minds when we were first messing around with these ideas that this would be a movie that we would have wanted to see when we were growing up. And then, when we were given the green light to make it, we thought of how it is going to be exciting for the community, but we definitely set out with the intention of making an R-rated comedy only for Asians. We wanted to make an R-rated comedy first, because we want to make people laugh. And I think a lot of people of all different backgrounds can relate to their characters in our story. And so it’s all really first and foremost, we’re like, Oh, it’d be really cool to write a really fun read for our friends. 

CHEVAPRAVATDUMRONG: Hopefully all sorts of people come to the theater and just laugh their asses off. And if some people come and laugh and then also feel seen that’s awesome and amazing, and we’ll take. If some people come and laugh their asses off and then also feel like they learned a little something about a culture that isn’t theirs, then we’ll also take that. So hopefully all that happens.

One aspect of this movie that is getting a lot of praise is how sex positive it is. The characters talk about sex, some of them have sex in the movie. Of course this is a raunchy comedy, but when it comes to Asian women, more so than other races and nationalities, they’ve been more hyper-sexualized or seen as being submissive throughout Hollywood film history. Was that something you wanted to tackle with this movie?

HSAIO: I guess there’s a Trojan Horse message there, seeing Asian people really getting to own their own sexuality and dictate the message versus being told: You’re a submissive; You’re a dragon lady. All the stereotypes that have been foisted on you. But we never went into anything thinking that we were going to have a message. We wanted to make a movie that was reflective of our friends and ourselves; we are loud and occasionally have done crazy things in our lives. We focused on Asian characters who completely own their sexuality, even if they’re still learning about it in their own way. If it brings up those kinds of questions later, then that can be conversation starters. 

Teresa, you said that a goal for this movie was to make the kind of movie that you would have wanted to sneak into seeing; the kind of movie your parents would have been ashamed of you for watching. What do you think your parents will think once they’ve seen the film?

HSAIO: I think our parents will be very proud of us. But they might also know some more things about us that they didn’t know before. What’s nice about there being two of us is that if my parents come up to me and say, “Oh my god, that scene was so gross,” I’m gonna say Cherry did it.

CHEVAPRAVATDUMRONG: And I’ll do the same thing. And we can have these conversations separately with our parents and both walk out with a lot of plausible deniability. They’ll have to sweep some things under the rug, but they will be happy to see our names on screen.

Can you provide us a glimpse into what’s next? Cherry, I know you’re working on an adaptation of your novel Duplikate, and Teresa you’re working on an animated film called Floaters.

CHEVAPRAVATDUMRONG: I turned in that script literally the day before we went on strike. So it’s done. Not currently working on it because we’re on strike.

HSAIO: Floaters was in development through Sony for Amazon, but same, not working on it because we’re on strike. 

So how has it been going for you guys these last two months, fighting the war against both the studios and the robots?

CHEVAPRAVATDUMRONG: That’s a nice way to put it. Yeah we’re out there. We’ve been picketing. We are just just waiting for the [Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers] to come to the table so we can get back to this negotiation and get a fair deal. It’s been nice to be able to talk about the strike, and make sure people do know what the issues are. The big corporations are trying to basically AI/gig economy everything. It’s worth all of us fighting against so thank you for asking. 


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