Ali Wong in Always Be My Maybe

The film currently has a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Netflix is back with another romantic comedy. “Always Be My Maybe” follows the story of Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim, two estranged childhood friends who reunite after 16 years apart. The film opens with them in a flashback as kids in 1996. Viewers are quickly introduced to the close dynamic between the friends. The film consists of a predominantly Asian cast. Ali Wong is an Asian-American stand-up comedian who plays Tran in the film. Alongside Wong is Randall Park, who plays Kim. Park is also Asian-American and is best known for his role in the ABC sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat.”

Wong and Park also wrote the film alongside screenwriter Michael Golamco. The film is the directorial debut for Nahnatchka Khan, who’s the creator and producer of ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat.” Her new movie includes a variety of moments that represent Asian culture in a positive light.

During her childhood, Sasha spent time without her parents due to their tendency to leave her home alone for long hours. As a result, she turned to Marcus and his parents who lived next door. Sasha immediately bonded with Marcus’s mom, who taught her how to make authentic Asian food. This allowed Sasha to discover her passion for cooking, which later turned into a career.

Marcus and Sasha grew up together and were there for each other during high and low points. After Marcus’s mom died, he turned to his best friend during heartbreak. While Marcus was recovering, he and Sasha spontaneously lost their virginity to one another, creating an awkward dynamic in their friendship. That same night, they had a falling out which created a rift in their friendship. They lost touch and 16 years went by.

The film’s transition from past to present is well done, giving viewers the chance to see how the main characters interacted as kids before introducing where they stand currently in their adult lives. In the transition to the present day, viewers learn that Sasha is a successful celebrity chef who has her own restaurant in the heart of San Francisco. On the other hand, Marcus still lives at home, cares for his widowed father and works for his father’s air-conditioning business. In his free time, Marcus plays music with his band at small venues in the area, but it doesn’t reap much success.

Marcus and Sasha reconnect as adults when Marcus and his dad show up to her house to install a new air-conditioning system. Sasha is surprised to see him for the first time in several years, and old memories come up. Viewers are surprised to see the two reunite at a different stage of their lives and are unsure of where their fate may lead them this time.

Sasha breaks up with her arrogant fiance, Brandon, and is open to dating new men, while Marcus has a free-spirited girlfriend named Jenny. Sasha and Marcus eventually move on from their other love interests to find each other again and give love a try, but their different lifestyles get in the way and prevent their relationship from progressing.

As a successful restaurateur, Sasha is unapologetic and isn’t afraid to put her business first. Society doesn’t always see women in power, but Sasha’s role goes against that stereotype. On the other hand, Marcus is stubborn to change and unwilling to move away from his father. He has a hard time accepting Sasha’s lavish lifestyle and doesn’t understand why she continues to open new restaurants and move to each new location.

Viewers see the constant back and forth between Sasha and Marcus and their struggle to maintain a romantic relationship. The difference in their lives is the topic of every argument, which drives them apart.

This film delivers plenty of lighthearted moments and presents the story of two long-lost friends who work on rekindling their chemistry. It provides much-needed Asian representation to strong leads and an exceptional supporting cast who doesn’t see themselves portrayed in Hollywood nearly enough.

Khan did an outstanding job with her directorial debut. “Always Be My Maybe” is funny, bold and touching and is directed toward all types of audiences. It’s a feel-good romantic comedy that leaves viewers wanting more. 

Contact Vanessa Nikolic at nikolivx@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.