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Movie Review

San Francisco holds a lot of gems, but none quite like the friendship between Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim.

Besties since childhood, Sasha always preferred Marcus, and his loving parents, over her constantly busy mom and dad. She found comfort in their routine, their love and their food. Marcus’ mom, Judy, taught Sasha how to cook authentic Korean dishes that could make you feel at home with just one magical bite.

Maybe Marcus and Sasha would have been an item if Judy hadn’t passed away and things stayed the same. But that’s not what happened.

These days, Sasha is a famous chef, and she’s dating her hotshot manager and living in Los Angeles. Her goal is to expand her restaurant franchise throughout the United States, which will take some relocating.

And what better place to spread her love of food than her hometown of San Francisco! Sure, it’s a place she’s tried to forget. But forgetting isn’t easy, especially when your ex-best friend unknowingly shows up on your front porch to install your new air conditioner.

As a flood of emotions wash over Sasha and Marcus, they both realize there’s still a spark between. But only time will tell if a spark is enough for them to leave their current significant others, as well as past hurts, to once again pursue the most important relationship either of them has ever had.

Positive Elements

Sasha is a strong, determined, focused woman with plans to become the best chef she can be. That said, she has a tendency to avoid real emotional growth. She needs Marcus to keep pushing her in that direction, to be honest with her, especially because a lot of her other relationships are devoid of real depth.

Marcus, for his part, is a loving guy who wants to be around to support his father. However, Marcus can also be self-focused, lazy and complacent. Because of these character weaknesses, he needs Sasha to encourage him and believe in him, even when he doesn’t believe in himself.

Marcus grew up in a loving home with kind, thoughtful parents. When Sasha started coming around as a child, Marcus’ parents took her in and loved her like one their own, something Sasha appreciates deeply.

Veronica, Sasha’s best friend, is a loyal business partner who challenges Sasha to grow. Sasha’s parents work to repair their relationship with their daughter.

Spiritual Content

Jenny, Marcus’ girlfriend, is a “free spirit.” She believes herself to be a spiritual being. We hear references to the Eastern spiritual concepts of “chi” and “yin and yang.” Jenny tells Sasha that she and Marcus are married, spiritually and sexually, if not legally.

A restaurant is said to be “non-denominational and trans-denominational.” A woman wishes “terrible karma” upon an ex-boyfriend. A song says “like a god you can call me Hercules.” Two young kids go trick-or-treating for Halloween. Two guys joke about “suppressing the darkness” while smoking weed.

Sexual Content

Marcus and Sasha have sex twice in the film. Although neither scene is graphic, the first shows the couple as teens making out and moving to the backseat of a car. Later, the car rocks back and forth. We see Sasha in her bra afterward. In the second scene, Marcus and Sasha make out as adults. The scene then cuts ahead, and we see the two of them in bed together, covered by a sheet.

As teens, Marcus and Sasha talk about a variety of sexual topics, such as how to put on condoms (in health class), various types of kissing, sexual sounds and virginity. Other conversations (and jokes) include topics such as sex, masturbation, reproductive organs, genital piercings, tampons, affairs, hickies and slut shaming.

Sasha’s best friend, Veronica, is a pregnant, lesbian woman who prepares for the birth of her (and her partner’s) baby throughout the film. Veronica talks about postpartum recovery, as well as the aches and pains of pregnancy. Sasha considers having a baby on her own.

A woman is said to have grown up with three mothers. A man says he’s a LGBTQIA ally and believes “love is love.” A transgender restaurant employee works as a host.

Sasha flashes Marcus (with her bra on) at a concert. Two men are shirtless at a spa. A few women wear slightly revealing dresses. Marcus urinates on a speaker (we see his rear and a blurred, very brief glimpse of his genitals from afar). Couples kiss, hug and flirt.

Violent Content

Marcus goes head to head with one of Sasha’s love interests. That guy smashes a glass vase over Marcus’ head (blood trickles down his forehead), violently threatens him, encourages Marcus to punch him (which he eventually does) and puts Marcus in a chokehold.

Marcus’ mom passes away after a tragic accident (we see family members at a memorial). Marcus jokingly says that he’ll make a “body drop” if he sees another hipster. He also says, “I’d rather shoot myself in the face” than eat pretentious food. Sasha jokes about her future baby daddy “getting trampled at a women’s march” and threatens a young woman who looks at her boyfriend.

Crude or Profane Language

God’s name is misused more than 10 times, including one pairing with “d--mit.” Jesus’ name is misused twice. The f-word is heard once, and the s-word nearly 20 times. (In one instance, a woman crudely tells an ex-boyfriend to eat “s--- and die”).

“B--ch,” is used more than 10 times as well. Other profanity includes multiple uses of “h---,” “a--hole,” “a--” and “d--k.” A man is called a “douche” and a “butt hole” a few times. A woman says “screw it” and uses a crude hand gesture. A few of these profanities are heard in various songs throughout the film.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Marcus smokes marijuana throughout the film; he’s joined by a friend in one of these scenes. We see a blunt sitting on a nightstand, and Marcus passes his friend a bong. Men and women alike drink beer, champagne, wine and hard liquor. Marcus is drunk in one scene.

Other Negative Elements

Marcus responds badly in many ways to his mother’s untimely death. Depression robs him of his drive to excel. And he often treats his friends poorly, using his circumstances as an excuse for his self-centered behaviors.

Sasha can also be selfish and disconnected, and she gravitates toward men who are shallow, rude and self-absorbed. Sasha feels wounded by her parents, who were also overly busy for a great deal of her childhood.

A woman makes a joke about flatulence, comments that “Chinese people” illegally use handicap stickers on their vehicles and wishes her boyfriend would “get malaria.” We hear a couple of other race-related jokes as well. Someone confesses to stealing.

Conclusion

Inspired by Mariah Carey’s 1995 hit song, “Always Be My Baby,” comedian Ali Wong’s Always Be My Maybe is a romantic comedy focused on how a lifelong friendship ultimately leads to love.

Ali Wong is joined by Fresh Off the Boat’s Randall Park (as well as a guest apparance by Keanu Reeves). Slowly, the movie’s main characters learn some important lessons about family, friendship, perseverance and adapting to life’s curveballs.

But even with compelling actors who know how to score a laugh, there’s still plenty of content to work through here. Language and sexual jokes permeate many a scene, marijuana is smoked freely and all the other content you’ll find here solidifies the fact that this hit movie certainly isn’t one for the whole family.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Ali Wong as Sasha Tran; Randall Park as Marcus Kim; James Saito as Harry; Michelle Buteau as Veronica; Vivian Bang as Jenny; Keanu Reeves as Keanu Reeves; Susan Park as Judy; Daniel Dae Kim as Brandon Choi; Karan Soni as Tony; Charlyne Yi as Ginger; Lyrics Born as Quasar

Director

Nahnatchka Khan ( )

Distributor

Netflix

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

May 29, 2019

On Video

May 29, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Kristin Smith

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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