Always Be My Maybe ★★★½

Stop talking about Keanu Reeves.

Always Be My Maybe would still be a serviceable, often funny rom-com without him. I appreciate that Reeves can make fun of himself, but this film's success is not about him. It's about the two charismatic leads, Ali Wong and Randall Park. Please stop talking about Keanu Reeves; it discredits the pieces surrounding his 15-minute interlude.

The costumes in Always Be My Maybe deserve recognition. Ali Wong's closet must have been insane. Every dress she wears is a straight-up knockout.

This is formulaic to a fault, and it's where the film falls short for me. The filmmakers aren't turning over any new stones with the plot. The experience, minus the casting, feels safe. The film should be applauded for its diverse casting and creative team, but they didn't pull any punches with this one.

Pretty soon, "movies featuring a character who is a celebrity-chef" will be its own genre. I'm not mad about it; kitchens and restaurants are hella photogenic. The location scouting for this project was top-notch.

I always gauge how I feel a film would have done in wide release in the streaming era. Many Netflix originals feel like theatrical knockoffs that waited years to be greenlit, middling box office flops that find new life on our home televisions. Always Be My Maybe feels like a film that would have been successful in theaters. The low budget set pieces paired with recognizable second-tier talent, would have carried this film. I'm not saying it kills in the box-office, but it could have won an opening weekend and then hung around in the top 7-10 for at least a month. It easily recoups its $19 million budget. Maybe is one of the better originals Netflix has put out in the last few years. They clearly value quantity over quality, and it shows.

Randall Park and Ali Wong have earned more leading role opportunities. It feels like a shift is happening in Hollywood, and I am here for it. I'll actively seek out projects led by either one of them. Their charisma, as mentioned above, is legit.

So, stop talking about Keanu Reeves.