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Film / Always Be My Maybe

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Always Be My Maybe is a Romantic Comedy directed by Nahnatchka Khan. It was released on Netflix on May 31, 2019.

Ali Wong and Randall Park star as childhood friends Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim, who spend their early adolescence growing up in San Francisco. Following the death of Marcus's mother, Sasha and Marcus sleep together but have a falling-out soon after. Sixteen years later, Marcus is still working with his father and Sasha is now a celebrity chef who returns to San Francisco to open her second restaurant. The two reconnect, but even as sparks fly between them, they have difficulty reconciling their now vastly different life paths.

Daniel Dae Kim, Michelle Buteau, and Keanu Reeves also have roles. Also, the title is a play on "Always Be My Baby" by Mariah Carey.


  • The '90s: The film's events start in 1996 when Sasha and Marcus were young kids with the leggings, jean jackets, and tresses of that period. Sasha begins to sit down to watch Clarissa Explains It All when Marcus shows up to invite her over for dinner.
  • Adam Westing: Keanu Reeves appears as a hyper-exaggerated version of himself, an overdramatic and pretentious douchebag who drops nonsensical one-liners and is raring to get into fights.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Sasha and Brandon. Sasha is in her 30s and Brandon is "a very young" 50.
  • The Alleged Car: Marcus still drives the beat-up Toyota he had in high school. By the present day, it's falling apart and he has to use a Slim Jim to unlock the doors.
  • Auto Erotica: As teenagers, Marcus and Sasha had sex in his old car.
  • Beta Couple: The movie features two couples who both have a more stable relationship than Sasha and Marcus. Veronica and Denise are married and expecting a baby, and it's revealed later in the movie that Harry started seeing Kathy the Diana Ross impersonator.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Veronica, is a heavy-set (and pregnant) lovely biracial (black and white) woman with some slight Weight Woe (she feels insecure about Kate Middleton being so thin even pregnant or post-partum) and calls herself "a fat Megan Markle".
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Sasha criticizes Marcus on having a huge amount of talent but wasting it due to his own fear of change.
  • Call-Back: In the film's opening scenes, a young Sasha is shown preparing a meal and sitting down to eat by herself. Later, a grown Sasha does the same, illustrating that she's still very lonely.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Near the end, Sasha calls out her parents for constantly leaving her home alone and not being around much.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Between Sasha and Marcus, who've known each other since childhood and develop nebulous feelings for each other as teenagers that never quite went away.
  • Comfort Food: Kimchi jjigae represents a welcoming home throughout the movie, with Sasha associating it with the way Judy made her feel as a child. Harry prepares it himself in the final third of the movie, symbolizing his desire to turn his house into a home once again after Judy's death.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: The best Sasha can say about Brandon is that he does capoeira and has 57,000 followers on Instagram.
  • Description Cut: On the red carpet, Brandon and Sasha are described as the perfect adoring couple. Cut to the limo ride home, both of them on their phones, ignoring each other.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Brandon is a mix of the bland (wealthy, career-compatible with Sasha) and sleazy (obviously not very attached to her and suggests postponing their wedding so he can screw around for six months) types whom Sasha breaks up with a third or so into the movie. Sasha's subsequent relationship with Keanu Reeves doesn't appear to last very long either because he's a jerk. Marcus also stops seeing his girlfriend Jenny after the catastrophic double date.
  • Double Date: Marcus/Jenny and Sasha/Keanu Reeves go on one at the Chateau Marmont. It is painfully awkward since Jenny drools over Keanu, who is constantly condescending to Marcus. The atmosphere only worsens once the two couples head up to Keanu's hotel room, and it ends with him and Marcus getting into a fight.
  • Fat Best Friend: Veronica (who is heavier-set than the thin Sasha, pregnancy aside) is assistant, confidante, old friend, and sidekick to Sasha.
    • As a child Marcus was this to Sasha.
  • First Girl Wins: And guy. Both Sasha and Marcus had other relationship during their riff but eventually chose each other.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: When Marcus was a teenager, his mother died in a car accident, and watched his father fall apart while he and his best friend Sasha have a falling out after they lose their virginity to each other. Years later, they reunite, and Sasha finds out he still works with his dad, still lives in the same bedroom, has not replaced his car (which is falling apart at every seam), and is in the same rock band that hasn't played in any other venue. The two try to reconnect but Marcus is too uncomfortable with the celebrity chef world and nearly blows his second chance for good. After hearing one of his bandmates call him out for blowing a new gig, as well as finding out his father found love again makes him realize he needs to grow up.
    Marcus: You need me, okay. You lost mom. I can't leave you too.
    Harry: We both lost your mom. And as hard as it was, it was her time to go. I thought if I gave you space someday I thought you'd be able to move on and let go. But you just sat there and let the world pass you by. Kills me seeing you like this, because I know it would've broken your mother's heart. Hey, sometimes you're gonna have to take a chance on something, son.
  • Gay Best Friend: Veronica is gay and Sasha's best (and only) friend.
  • Gilligan Cut: Of a sort. At the end of the film, Marcus brings up the fact that he punched Keanu Reeves, and Sasha jokingly tells him that he should write a song about it. When the main credits roll, it's accompanied by... a song about Marcus punching Keanu Reeves.
  • Girl Friday: Veronica is Sasha's old friend and faithful assistant.
  • Good Parents: The Kims are shown to be loving parents to Marcus and open their home to Sasha, in contrast to how the Trans usually left Sasha to her own devices.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture:
    • Marcus flies to Sasha's awards ceremony and makes a grand speech about wanting to be where she is.
    • Sasha builds her third restaurant around Marcus's mother and her recipes.
  • Haute Cuisine Is Weird: In full force during the double date. The dishes are all very pretentious, very small, and very expensive — their multi-course meal of venison (that comes with headphones that play the sound of the animal dying), a tiny greens-and-seafood salad (microgreens served with dehydrated seaweed and "fish dandruff"), a "monochrome" course, transparent asparagus soup "extracted with a centrifuge", the flavor of Caesar salad, and lavender "sugar bubbles" for dessert. It all comes up to $6400.
    Marcus: Well, I'm not wrong about the fact that I'm hungry as hell after a $6,400 dinner. Hey! Can I get a monochrome burrito to go?
  • Hot-Blooded: When Sasha gets fired up she really gets fired up.
    Sasha: (To Brandon) I hope you get malaria and shit yourself to death, YOU SHITTY PIECE OF SHIT!!
  • Hunk: As much of a Disposable Fiancé as Brandon was Sasha can't help but lampshade this.
    Sasha: It was like being in love with a statue. A sexy, handsome, chiseled statue of a Korean Eric from The Little Mermaid. He was just too perfect, you know?
  • Malicious Misnaming: Keanu Reeves accidentally calls Marcus "Henry". Later, when challenging Marcus to punch him, Keanu maliciously calls Marcus "Henry" again to piss Marcus off enough.
  • Manchild: Marcus is shown to have been stuck in place ever since his mother passed away, still living in his childhood bedroom and driving the same car from high school.
  • May–December Romance: Implied with the Diana Ross impersonator and Mr. Kim as he already has an adult son and she looks to be about said son's age.
    • Also, Keanu Reeves is almost 20 years older than Sasha.
  • Missing Mom: Mrs. Kim to Marcus as she died in an accident when he was a young adult.
  • Monochrome Casting: Save for the Haitian-Jamaican Michelle Buteau as Veronica and Casey Wilson in the bit part of the woman overseeing Sasha's restaurant, the entire cast is made up of actors of Asian descent, which is noteworthy considering it's largely set around the San Francisco Bay Area. (In reality, the demographics of that area are about 20% Asian.)
    • One the things that got Keanu Reeves on board was "remembering that [he] was Asian."
  • The One That Got Away: Even after sixteen years of no contact, Sasha and Marcus are clearly not 100% over each other.
  • Parental Neglect: Sasha's parents never had time for her. They'd leave her alone during the day and into the night, usually trusting that Marcus's family would pick up the slack. She's resentful of it into adulthood, especially now that they're trying to make amends.
  • Parental Substitute: The Kims, especially Mrs. Kim, were surrogate parental figures to Sasha in her youth as her parents were often too busy to take care of her.
  • Parents as People: Sasha's parents were always working hard at the shop they ran, and therefore couldn't be at home for their daughter. This isn't a clear-cut example as most others; as even now they've retired and began to enjoy life some more, they're not explicitly showing remorse for the damage their constant neglect did to Sasha, but also make it clear that they were attempting to show love in the way they could (if not the way she wanted).
  • Parent with New Paramour: Mr. Kim starts a romance with a Diana Ross impersonator. While Marcus is surprised and uncomfortable at first, it gives him the jolt he needs to realize that he and his father can't let his mother's death hold them back any more.
  • Parting-Words Regret: Downplayed, as neither died, but right after having sex together for the first time, Sasha and Marcus get into a fight about the latter not leaving for college. Sasha correctly deduces it's because of his mother's death and attempts to console Marcus that she misses her to, only for Marcus to angrily respond that Mrs. Kim was his mom not Sasha's, no matter how many times she wants it to be. An obviously hurt Sasha gives him a well-deserved insult and leaves. Marcus realizes what he said went too far but was too late by then.
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Keanu Reeves.
    Keanu: Oh, I don't [wear glasses]. My eyes are perfect. This is for a part. They don't even have lenses in them.
  • Second Love: The Diana Ross impersonator becomes one for Mr. Kim.
  • Shipper on Deck: Mr. Kim, Veronica, and the Trans are all rooting for Sasha and Marcus to get together.
  • Supreme Chef: Sasha is an extraordinarily successful celebrity chef.
  • Their First Time: Marcus and Sasha lose their virginity to each other.
  • Uptown Girl: As adults, Sasha is a wealthy chef, while Marcus is a middle-class blue-collar worker. This causes tension between them, as neither of them are very accepting of the other's life.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Both Sasha and Marcus call each other out on their flaws, either with Sasha's need to have someone beside her or Marcus' fear of change preventing him from reaching his full potential.
  • Wardrobe Flaw of Characterization: Marcus' struggles to fit into Sasha's world is reflected in his wardrobe choices, either overdressing or underdressing for the situation. In the end, his decision to buy a proper suit reflects his increasing maturity and desire to make an effort to be with Sasha.