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"Always Be My Maybe" Review

Hot on the heels of the girlfriend-recommended Netflix Original movie The Perfection comes yet another of her, "Don't read anything about it," suggestions, the Asian-American-fronted rom-com Always Be My Maybe. She was so hyped up about one particular section that she told me the time index in case I didn't want to watch a rom-com, me being a manly man and all. But I decided to watch it from the beginning and it's a perfectly pleasant rom-com.

Starring and co-written by Ali Wong and Randall Park, Always Be My Maybe is the story of two lifelong friends who grew up living next door to each other in San Francisco. Because Sasha's parents were always at their store, leaving her home alone, she'd frequently come over to Marcus' to hang out and she picked up cooking from his mother, who tragically passes away because it's like a Disney movie and mother's don't live long in those, do they?

Ultimately they end up impulsively having sex one night in 2003 in the backseat of his Toyota Corolla which makes things weird between them. She leaves to eventually become a glitzy celebrity chef while he stayed home to work for his father's HVAC company and play with his band, doing little with his life. 15 years later, she returns from Los Angeles to supervise the opening of a new restaurant and when she has to have the AC fixed in her posh rental (doesn't the landlord take care of this stuff?), Marcus reenters the picture and they have the usual rom-com foibles before the obligatory murder-suicide which ends all of these movies. (That's what happens in rom-coms, right? I never watch them so I'm just guessing.)

OK, they don't end up dead. They fall in love because they were always destined to because IT'S A FREAKING ROM-COM! Since the template is so rigid, the success and failure of one's enjoyment of a rom-com comes down to the execution and it does well enough. Wong and Park are appealing, albeit not deep enough for the more dramatic bits, but have a believable chemistry. Their script is also notable for the amount of laugh lines they dish out to bit players; the biggest LOLs are throwaway gags, sometimes from these near-extras.

But the secret sauce is the Very Special Guest Star whose participation has apparently been a big meme on the parts of the Internet I don't notice and is given away at the end of the trailer, which is why it's not included here. (Same as with The Perfection. Stop it, Netflix!) If you somehow have missed the surprise, DON'T LOOK AT ANYTHING ELSE IF YOU PLAN ON WATCHING ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE! Especially IMDB in iPad which lists them first! The surprise is worth it, especially with the performance they deliver. (If you've heard about it and wondered if it's all that, it is.)

Some are making a big deal about almost completely non-gringo cast, but ignore that divisive crap. Just as Crazy Rich Asians was only different because of its cast, setting and economic bracket, not its core story, same goes for Always Be My Maybe. With only the most superficial of changes, this could've been made with white, black or Martian casts.

Score: 7/10. Worth watching on Netflix.


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