Review: Always Be My Maybe9th October 2019
Netflix never fails to underwhelm me, and I feel like I should’ve learnt my lesson by now. Their output in the romantic comedy genre is extreme. They provide a great deal of unmemorable, subpar films that somehow manage to attract large audiences for no other reason than the ease of access streaming sites give the modern user. Always Be My Maybe falls straight into that category of inexplicably popular. A film that, if released in the cinema, probably wouldn’t have received much glance; but thanks to the miracle of Netflix distribution services, I get to sit through another overrated, popular romcom from the giant pool of equally meandering movies.
Jumping through more hoops than a dolphin at SeaWorld, Always Be My Maybe does its best to stick to every trope of the romantic comedy genre. We have the expected “Will they? Won’t they?” tropes slapped up in the background, often forgotten about and brought back round to the forefront whenever convenient for director Nahnatchka Khan. Khan gives us the standard rigamarole of what we can come to expect from the standardised romantic comedy. Her direction gives us bland execution, nothing of interest or entertainment value, not a singular unique voice or style from her.
This is more or less the same for our leading characters. Bland, unoriginal, your normal stock and filler for this type of film. Ali Wong and Randall Park do make for a suitable onscreen pairing, their chemistry is solid enough for the scenes they have together. It’s never quite believable though, the script gives us so many reasons for these characters to stay away from one another that it’s hard to root for their happiness when you’re starting to question it yourself. Reunited after sixteen years, Sasha (Wong) and Marcus (Park), meet by chance and rekindle their friendship and awkward romantic feelings.
Our character introductions and explanations are more fuelled by their meandering background noise rather than anything the film is keen to show us. Who knew that Ali would end up being a professional chef because we saw her make a meal for herself? I can make meals for myself, barely, and I don’t plan on becoming a world-renowned culinary artist. Not yet anyway. With characters this paper thin, it’s hard to imagine how they managed to stretch out these one note, stereotypically driven characters any further. Somehow though, the two make a small handful of scenes bearable, and of course the inclusion of Keanu Reeves adds the only good scenes within the film. The man is a treasure, and Reeves appears in much more of the film than I had first expected.
There was a brief homage to Woody Allen’s Manhattan featured in Always Be My Maybe that kept lingering in my mind until the closing moments. Maybe it’s because it referenced a film I truly love, one that I would’ve preferred to watch over this miserably simplistic and unaccountably poor Netflix original. Always Be My Maybe will have no trouble finding an audience of petulant teenagers looking for something light to watch on an evening. That type of entertainment is fine, it’s a genre that has some hidden gems within, but this film certainly isn’t one of them.