Always Be My Maybe
Always Be My Maybe is held back from being the next great romantic comedy thanks to a lack of clarity in its overall design but, as a home stream that’s sweet, warm and light, it’s the perfect comfort food
Sasha (Wong) and Marcus (Park) are childhood BFFs and nearly-sweethearts who lose connection as their adult lives draw them into different worlds. She’s a celebrity chef with a taste for experimental haute cuisine while he’s an AC repair guy who rocks the local dive bars as the lead singer of Hello Peril (they're kind of like Lonely Island doing a Tribe Called Quest tribute. They’re great).
Sasha’s restaurants take the authentic home cooking she grew up with and re-mixes it for a (post)modern audience. In the end, of course, she learns to go back to her roots and serve the dishes as straight and simple as they were always meant to be: prioritising full-flavoured comfort over clever subversion. The main problem with Always Be My Maybe is that Nahnatchka Khan’s film never quite picks which side of this line it wants to be on.
You can make a great movie by adhering religiously to a time-honoured genre recipe; you can put a fresh spin on it by switching out some key components or even deconstruct it completely to analyse each flavour in isolation. Scene to scene, Khan’s film flits between each of these approaches and the end result is kind of messy.
Fortunately though, Wong and Park are strong enough as both writers and performers to lend it an overwhelmingly pleasant flavour, and never more so than when they’re used in tandem with the film's secret ingredient: Keanu Reeves. Rather than playing himself, this is Reeves playing his 'too pure' internet persona. He’s weird, pretentious, overly intense and still oddly likeable. It’s a performance that perfectly understands both the popular abstraction of Keanu Reeves and how best to mine it for comedy, without ever allowing it to dominate the movie.