LAAPFF 2021: The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu Review

The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu

I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for comedic coming-of-age films—especially ones that involve a road trip. These kinds of films remind me of the good times I had in high school, and the friends I made along the way. So, I was looking forward to Anna Chi’s comedic coming-of-age flick, The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu. Unfortunately, Disappearance is a mixed bag of forced cheesy scenarios and mediocre acting. Not to mention, the jokes in the movie mostly fall flat. 

The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu follows Lily Wu (Lisa Lu), a grandmother who only has a limited time left. Instead of spending the rest of her life in a nursing home, Lily enlists her longtime friend Charlotte (Joely Fisher), granddaughter Emma (Rochelle Ying), and Emma’s friend Karen (Tiffany Wu) to break her out and go on a road trip to Carmel, California. 

Despite the simple plotline, screenwriters Anna Chi and Donald Martin pack the movie with many more plotlines. Under a director with a defter touch, this wouldn’t be a problem. However, Chi handles some better than others. For one thing, the generational mother/daughter conflicts are some of the film’s highlights. Not to mention, the health issues involving Lily lead to some touching moments. Unfortunately, the plotlines Chi doesn’t handle well include the LGBTQ and sibling rivalry storylines. Most of the problems lie with the clumsy way both the wooden dialogue and performances come together.

The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu is a mixed bag of forced cheesy scenarios and mediocre acting.

If the performances by the cast were better, the script would’ve been better off. Yet, it seems like many of the cast members got these roles based on connections instead of being ideal for the role. Most of the cast, both rookies and vets, are not very good in this movie. Chief among them is Rochelle Ying in her first feature lead role. While she’s able to cry on command, her performance doesn’t feel natural, and she has zero chemistry with the rest of the cast. At the same time, Michelle Krusiec is not very good as Emma’s mother, Mary. Her hollow performance makes her character even more annoying. Out of the cast members, Lisa Lu (Crazy Rich Asians) and Adrian Pasdar (NBC’s Heroes) are the only capable actors in the whole cast.

Overall, The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu had the opportunity to be a great coming-of-age flick—a charming mixture of Lulu Wang’s The Farewell and Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart. However, a massive amount of missteps is what ultimately brings the movie down. 

Rating: 2.5/5 atoms

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