For about as long as the medium of film has existed there have been great romantic comedies. And as the world of cinema has grown and aged over the years, the genre has only become more popular, diverse, and hilarious. In recent years, we have seen an influx of romantic comedies with Asian-American lead characters that have only made the concept more enjoyable and relatable, with titles like Crazy Rich Asians, Always Be My Maybe, and The Big Sick, to name only a few films that explore Asian-American experience.
Below is a list of 10 of the most charming and hilarious romantic comedies with Asian-American leads, how to watch them on various streaming services, and other ways you can give them a watch on your next date night or mid-week laugh and cry fest on your couch.
Always Be My Maybe (2019)
Sasha Tran (Ali Wong) and Marcus Kim (Randall Park) were childhood best friends growing up next door to one another in San Francisco, but the relationship is brought to an abrupt end following an awkward sexual experience and unfortunate argument. The once-close friends are thrown back into each other’s lives 16 years later when Sasha, now a celebrity chef, returns to the Bay Area to open a new restaurant.
What really makes Always Be My Maybe such a gem (besides amazing the Keanu Reeves cameo) is the way in which Wong and Park really play into the awkwardness of their characters’ situation and how they attempt to get back what they lost all those years ago.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
When Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) initially agrees to attend a wedding in Singapore with her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), the NYU economics professor has no idea what she’s getting herself into. But upon their arrival, Rachel becomes fully aware of Nick’s family, their extravagant lifestyle, and unwelcoming nature towards those they feel don’t meet their lofty standards.
Crazy Rich Asians is an over-the-top, sensational, and larger-than-life romantic comedy with more than a few outstanding and iconic characters in its cast list. Pull back the designer clothes, million-dollar weddings, and bachelor parties on cargo ships, though, and you have a story about a young woman who won’t let anyone, not even her boyfriend’s domineering mother, tell her how she can live her life, even if it means giving up a chance at love.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
When Lara Jean (Lana Condor), a shy high school student, writes a series of letters to the five boys she’s had a crush on throughout her life before locking them away in her closet. However, when her younger sister finds the letters and sends them out to their recipients, Lara Jean’s life is thrown for a loop and is never the same.
Although some would argue that the stakes in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before are much lower than in other movies on this list, try telling that to the young girl at the center of the 2018 Netflix original movie. The way in which the movie, and lead actor Lana Condor, captures the awkwardness of teenage love and angst is brilliant and makes the romantic comedy one worth revisiting time and time again.
The Big Sick (2017)
Shortly after being dumped by his girlfriend, Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) receives word that Emily (Zoe Kazan) has been placed in a medically-induced coma so doctors can figure out a course of action for a life-threatening virus. Kumail sits by Emily’s side along with her parents, played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, who think that since the relationship is over he should leave.
The Big Sick, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, is loosely based on the experiences Kumail Nanjiani had when his wife and screenwriting partner, Emily V. Gordon, was placed in a coma years earlier. In its two-hour runtime, the movie tackles differing cultures, love, loss, and so much more without making the audience feel lost or overwhelmed.
Set It Up (2018)
The 2018 Netflix romantic comedy Set it Up follows Harper Moore (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie Young (Glen Powell), two overworked and unappreciated assistants who come up with a plan to make their respective work lives a little easier: they pair up their bosses with one another in hopes they’ll hit it off and become happier people who are easier to work for. Their marks, Kirsten Stevens (Lucy Liu) and Rick Otis (Taye Diggs) eventually hit it off, but the road of love is not without its bumps.
Although much of the movie is focused on the budding relationship shared by Harper and Charlie, the targets of their master plan to have a better work-life balance take things up a notch. Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs are both exceptional in their portrayals of career-driven people who are in need of a good time.
Plus One (2019)
One of the many great romantic comedies on Hulu, Plus One centers on best friends Alice Mori (Maya Erskine) and Ben King (Jack Quaid) as they serve as each other’s guests at a variety of weddings over the course of a summer. As the wedding season goes on, however, their situation becomes a little more complicated than anyone could have guessed.
Plus One just works, plain and simple, and a lot of that has to do with the way in which the two leads play off one another. No matter if they’re acting like friends, lovers, or find themselves somewhere in between, Erskine and Quaid (the son of rom-com queen Meg Ryan) come off as real, genuine, and likable people.
Saving Face (2004)
When Wil Pang’s (Michelle Krusiec) mother attempts to set her up with a man whom she could then marry, the young and successful surgeon instead meets and falls for a young woman named Vivian (Lynn Chen) who has ties to her past. But, if things weren’t complicated enough for the new relationship (Wil is closeted while Vivian is out), Wil’s life is given another twist when her pregnant and widowed mother moves in with her.
Alice Wu’s influential 2004 romantic comedy, Saving Face, has since become one of the most influential movies of the past 18 years, with actors like Awkwafina telling Rotten Tomatoes it is one of her favorite films. The premise, characters, and heart of its story make it a movie to check out.
Love Hard (2021)
Natalie Bauer (Nina Dobrev) thinks she has finally met the man of her dreams on a dating app. But when she flies across the country to surprise her new catch over the Christmas holiday, the hopeless romantic realizes she has been duped by a catfish named Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) who is very much not the man on the app, though he does know where the handsome fellow works.
One of the most anticipated love stories of 2021, the Netflix original, Love Hard, has a lot going for it. There’s the obvious catfish angle that pretty much sold the movie, the chemistry shared by leads Dobrev and Yang, and a surprisingly heartfelt story about unconventional love.
The Half Of It (2020)
When Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) is hired by classmate and football player, Paul Munksy (Daniel Diemer), to write a love letter to Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire), little does anyone know that she’s also about to go on a journey of self-discovery that could potentially change everything about her life.
Much like director Alice Wu’s 2004 debut Saving Face, the 2020 Netflix coming-of-age romantic comedy, The Half of It, tackles a number of topics like sexuality, finding one’s place in the world, and being a support system for a grieving parent. With far more depth than the average romantic comedy and becoming one of several great LGBTQ rom-coms, The Half of It sets out to accomplish more and say something about the world.
The Lovebirds (2020)
At the start of The Lovebirds, Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani) and Leilani (Issa Rae) are under the impression that their failing relationship is the biggest of their concerns, but that quickly becomes far from the case. On their way to a dinner party one night, the couple’s car is commandeered by a mysterious man who uses it to run over and kill a cyclist before fleeing, leaving the on-the-rocks couple as the prime suspects in a crime they didn’t commit.
The 2020 romantic comedy, which saw Nanjiani work under the direction of The Big Sick director Michael Showalter once more, takes elements of romance, murder, and thriller movies to create a fun, and hilarious good time.
Each of these romantic comedies with Asian-American lead characters are hilarious in their own way, whether it be subtle and nuanced or explicitly in your face. Either way, each offer something unique, and most of all, are fun to watch.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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