SYNOPSIS: A hilarious and heartfelt comedy starring Awkwafina and Sandra Oh as estranged sisters forced to cover their mother’s gambling debts, set out to get the cash the only way they know how - by turning Anne (Awkwafina) into a bona-fide gameshow champion.
Awkwafina is pretty prolific in recent times especially in Disney titles. You probably recognised her trademark husky voice in The Little Mermaid and Raya And The Last Dragon or playing opposite Shang-Chi in the Marvel outing. While she is known more for her comedic roles, she can be a pretty competent actress in stuff liked The Farewell.
In the Quiz Lady, she plays an introvert office lady, Annie. Her childhood is a mess given her father died young and her mother is a compulsive gambler. Her only companion is the long running quiz show, Can’t Stop the Quiz and the show’s beloved host, Terry McTeer (Will Ferrell) and her pug named Linguini.
But when her mother went missing at the nursing home after racking up a $80000 loan with a bookie, Annie and her sister, Jenny (Sandra Oh) has to think of ways to foot the bill. Realising Annie has a talent in answering every correct questions on Can’t Stop the Quiz, Jenny decides to persuade Annie to enter as a contestant in order to win the top prize and save the day.
For a start, Awkwafina and Sandra Oh plays off perfectly onscreen as the pair of estranged sisters. Jenny is loud, street smart and to some degree, obnoxious. On the other hand, Annie is reserved, “invisible” to her colleagues maybe even OCD. This is the sort of bizarre relationship that works especially well in a comedy and the duo nails every minute of it.
Despite that, there isn’t a lot of big laughs in the movie if you expect a whole lot of raunchy, nudity gags in it. The most funny, ridiculous gag of all is when Jenny intentionally fed Annie some drugs during the audition which caused the latter to hallucinate and nearly making a big hurrah.
Don’t get us wrong though, Quiz Lady in fact is an enjoyable comedy that has lots of heart. Meaningful because it tells a grounded Asian sibling relationship that has it fair share of hurts and sacrifice. Warming because a very nuanced Will Ferrell plays a sort of absence father figure to Annie. Funny because the chemistry between Awkwafina and Sandra Oh works so well and Jason Schwartzman plays a very competitive contestant that harbours an evil intention.
Quiz Lady might be a predictable odd-couple comedy but it easily surpassed the average expectation. And also, the late Paul Reubens aka Pee-wee Herman made his last screen appearance in the finale.
Review by Linus Tee