The romantic comedy is having a little bit of an unexpected revival at the moment, mostly by broadening its horizons beyond white upper-middle class professionals (usually journalists and architects) in forcibly whimsical situations. Always Be My Maybe is a high point of said revival and a welcome addition to the genre.
Ali Wong and the always-charming Randall Park play Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim, inseparable childhood friends whose relationship falls apart after they awkwardly relieve each other of their virginity in the aftermath of Marcus’s mother’s death. Years pass, and their lives head in completely different directions. Sasha becomes a celebrity chef who is constantly dealing with red carpets and restaurants openings; Marcus stays in San Francisco, taking care of his aging father (a delightful James Saito), getting stoned, and carefully avoiding trying anything that he might possibly fail at. The setup is obvious–he can give her simplicity and a return to her roots, she can give him drive and ambition–but the film embroiders upon that theme in ridiculous and endearing ways. You’ve got Marcus’s father joining his son in a competition to dance weirdly in front of a mirror, a Diana Ross impersonator at a child’s birthday party, and a clearance rack suit described as “great for court dates, entry-level job interviews, high school reunions where, like, you don’t want them to know how successful you are.”
It also has one of the best celebrity-plays-an-asshole-version-of-themselves bits of all time from Keanu Reeves, who appears as Sasha’s temporary boyfriend and is an endless pleasure here, at one point asking a restaurant if they have any dishes that “play with time… like the concept of time” and then weeping while eating the resultant meal, a venison steak consumed while you listen to audio of the deer being slaughtered.
Always Be My Maybe is available on Netflix; it’s smart, well-executed, and occasionally heartfelt silliness, and I highly recommend it if anything above sounds even remotely intriguing.