Directed by Adele Lim (writer of Crazy Rich Asians) and with Ashley Park (Emily in Paris) as the protagonist, Joy Ride is hilarious, raunchy, chaotic, and thoroughly enjoyable. It is meant to be funny, and it hits the mark. While the story is not as strong as the comedy, it somewhat binds it all together. At the center of the drama are childhood buddies Lolo Chen and Audrey Sullivan. Audrey was adopted by a white couple, and in the predominantly white neighborhood, her parents were relieved when they came across the Chen family. Audrey and Lolo became instant friends, even though they were starkly different. Audrey grew up to become a successful lawyer while Lolo created body-positive art, and she was on the lookout for her big break.
Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Audrey was asked to travel to Beijing, China, to finalize a deal on behalf of her law firm. Even though Audrey was ethnically Chinese, she felt more connected to American culture. She barely knew the language, and she never took an interest in discovering her roots. Lolo, on the other hand, was well-versed in the language, and because of her parents, she felt closer to Chinese culture. Audrey decided to take Lolo along to Beijing as her translator. When Lolo came across a picture of Audrey’s birth mother, she proposed finding her. Audrey believed it was a ridiculously childish proposition that she was not interested in. She was traveling only for work, and that was all she cared about. Lolo brought along her quirky cousin, Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), who was deeply invested in K-Pop.
The three glaringly different personalities traveled to China, and their first stop was at the set of a Chinese television drama, “The Emperor’s Daughter.” Audrey’s college friend and roommate, Kat Huang (Stephanie Hsu), was a popular Chinese actor, and Audrey wanted to visit her before her meetings began. While Audrey was glad to be reunited with her roommate, Lolo was not too fond of Kat, but her special tattoo intrigued her. After moving to Beijing, Kat started dating her costar, Clarence. Kat was known for her wild adventures, and Audrey found it a little concerning that she was pretending to be a God-loving woman just because Clarence was a devotee. Kat believed she had found the one; she was engaged to marry Clarence, and she did not wish for her wild past to affect her peaceful present. Kat stated that she, too, would accompany Audrey to her business meeting, along with Lolo and Deadeye. The four arrived at the nightclub to meet Audrey’s client, Mr. Lin. The unconventional business meeting was going well, but that was until a thousand-year-old egg shot was introduced. While Audrey managed to drink it up, it ended in a chaotic mess. Mr. Lin insisted on knowing Audrey’s roots, and Lolo casually stated that she was close to her birth mother. Audrey did not know how to react; it was all a big lie, but she also needed Mr. Lin to trust her. He invited her and her birth mother to a party, and he stated that only after knowing her roots would he come to an agreement with her.
Audrey had to track down her birth mother before the party, and it was not an easy task. Thankfully, Lolo had contacted the adoption agency out of curiosity and found out that Audrey’s birth mother was open to meeting her. The four decided to travel to Haiching and stay at Lolo’s grandparents’ house during this time. The business meeting was turning into a journey of self-discovery; while Audrey was not keen on finding her roots, it seemed it was her destiny to reunite with her birth mother.
Was Audrey Able To Meet Her Birth Mother?
After sharing their train coach with a drug dealer and losing their passports in the process, Lolo arranged a special transport to reach Haiching. After spending an eventful night, the girls finally reached their destination. Audrey had never experienced Chinese culture to the extent she did while staying at Lolo’s Nai Nai’s house. They were all too welcoming, and Audrey cherished the love and affection she received. Audrey wondered how different her life would have been had she lived in China with her birth mother. The next day, dressed in traditional Chinese clothes, Audrey arrived at the adoption center. The woman running the center recognized Audrey and pulled out her file. Audrey was shocked to learn that her mother was Korean and not Chinese. Audrey’s mother was just a teenager when she gave birth to her. To keep the pregnancy a secret, she was sent to China to deliver the baby. All her life, Audrey believed she was Chinese, and suddenly everything changed. It was almost as if she did not know who she was anymore. She was perhaps always afraid of finding out the truth, knowing that the past would reveal something uncomfortable that she was not ready to face. But somehow, life forced her to face her truth, and she now had to travel to Seoul to find her mother.
With their passports gone, Deadeye came up with a plan and contacted their online friends for help. Their friends managed to nearly pull off the K-Pop band plan, but a wardrobe malfunction and Kat’s secret tattoo ruined their chance. They had to board a ship and travel with livestock to reach Seoul without documents. Their K-Pop stunt made them popular for all the wrong reasons. Kat received a call from Clarence, and he ended their relationship. Audrey, too received a call from Mr. Lin, and he refused to carry forward their business deal after seeing the viral video. Audrey also lost her job as a result. Both Audrey and Kat’s dreams of living their perfect lives in LA were ruined. Lolo was surprised to find out that Audrey was planning on moving to LA. Audrey blamed Lolo for live streaming the video and taking the entire situation lightly. She believed Lolo had no idea of the real world, which was why she planned the entire operation to add spice to her life. She also expressed her frustration over Lolo’s career choice and stated that her art was a hobby and not something she could pursue to earn her livelihood.
Kat could not believe that Audrey was obsessing over her loss while her career suffered a huge blow and her personal life fell apart. Kat was tired of Audrey’s self-absorbed nature, and she decided to leave. Audrey was all alone, and she made up her mind to face the truth all by herself. She found out that her mother had passed away, and all she had was the address for the burial ground. Audrey wished her friends were there to comfort her, but she lost them over something she later realized was extremely silly. She called her parents for consolidation. Meanwhile, Kat left Clarence a three-hour voicemail discussing her past in detail and promising to be honest forever.
‘Joy Ride’ Ending Explained: How Did Audrey, Lolo, Kat, And Deadeye Reunite?
At the burial ground in Seoul, Audrey met her birth mother’s partner, Dae Han. He had heard all about Audrey, and he knew how Min Young longed for the day when Audrey would come find her. Once she realized that she did not have too much time on hand, she recorded a video in case her daughter came to visit her. Dae Han invited Audrey to his house and discussed how Min Young never wanted to give up Audrey, but her parents forced her to. Even though Min Young was no longer there to embrace Audrey, the video helped Audrey feel closer to her birth mother. In the video, Min Young described her memories of her little girl. All her life, she wondered how Audrey was doing. Audrey never stopped thinking about her daughter, and her love for Audrey was eternal. Audrey later learned that her friends Lolo, Kat, and Deadeye had informed Dae Han about Audrey’s plan to visit the burial ground (they found out about it from Audrey’s parents). Without them, she would not have known her mother. Even though they had a fight, Lolo, Kat, and Deadeye never stopped caring for Audrey. Audrey followed Dae Han’s advice and decided to mend her friendship with Lolo and Kat. After all, she could not imagine her life without her friends.
Lolo moved out of Audrey’s garage and took a temporary job at her parent’s restaurant. Meanwhile, Kat was fired from the show, but to her surprise, Clarence did not give up on her. He had always assumed that Kat had a colorful past, and he was afraid that he would not live up to her expectations. He created a boundary to keep her interest going, but after Kat came clean, he realized he, too, needed to be honest about his feelings. The lovers ultimately reunited, and this time they decided to go beyond kissing. Audrey met Lolo at the restaurant, where Deadeye was covering for an employee. Deadeye was ecstatic to see Audrey again. They barely connected with people since most considered them too eccentric to interact with. Deadeye was over the moon to have found real friends in Audrey and Kat, and no matter what, they loved them to bits. After a heartfelt public apology, Lolo forgave Audrey. Lolo apologized for taking Audrey for granted, and the childhood best friends were back together. We also find out that Audrey apologized to Kat, and they sorted out their differences. And interestingly, Lolo and Kat became friends during the trip, and they stayed in touch.
After a year of the unforgettable China trip, at the end of Joy Ride, the four traveled to Paris. Audrey and Lolo had always dreamed of exploring Paris together and traveling with Deadeye and Kat only added to the fun (with Ashley Park playing Audrey, there had to be a Paris connection!). The girls also figured out their lives in the last year—Audrey started her own law firm, Deadeye was in charge of hosting games night, Kat’s acting career took off, and she had a Greta Gerwig film on the line, and Lolo’s painting was bought by a cafe, and it was just the beginning of her artistic career. The cherry on top: Kat and Clarence were planning their wedding, and they all happily agreed to become her bridal party. The trip to Beijing was eye-opening for Audrey; not only did she learn about her birth mother, but she also realized how incomplete her life was without her friends. Lolo and Audrey needed to be honest with one another, and while it got a little out of hand, they managed to overcome their differences. While Audrey believed her dream was to move to LA with a posh job, she ended up doing better than that. Lolo swallowed her ego and earned her living to finance her art, and Kat learned to be honest about herself. Deadeye got a bunch of new friends, and they realized that there would always be people who would appreciate their eccentricity and never judge the choices they made. Joy Ride ended on a happy note, and who knows, we might as well be treated to another adventure!