8mm Review: Quiz Lady

Awkwafina and Sandra Oh star in Hulu’s Quiz Lady, which premiered on November 3rd:

“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.”

This is a lighthearted comedy with strong performances by Awkwafina and Sandra Oh. I especially enjoyed Oh’s over-the-top portrayal of an irresponsible adult older sister. As of this writing, Quiz Lady enjoys an 81% Rotten Tomatoes score based on 53 reviews.

I agree with the New York Times review’s overall sentiment:

“Like so many road trip buddy comedies, the effectiveness of the enterprise rests, arguably more than the writing or direction itself, on the balance and chemistry between the central duo. And “Quiz Lady” in particular is predicated upon a role-reversing gamble: Typically a dramatic actress, Oh is playing the freewheeling Jenny, while her co-star, Awkwafina, who aside from her role in “The Farewell” has mostly made her name as the often cartoonish comic relief (“Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Little Mermaid”), is the serious and high-strung Anne.

But the pair finds an easy harmony together, even as Oh does most of the heavy lifting. While Awkwafina’s little-sister turn often falls into uptight, one-note outbursts, Oh is a charismatic and natural counterbalance as the outsize Jenny. She knows when to reel her choices in and, most important, imbues Jenny’s kookiness with an emotional depth bubbling just underneath the surface.

The funniest scene comes toward the end, when Jenny and Anne play a high-stakes game of charades on the quiz show. As they hit their stride, the sequence, punctuated by a strikingly tender moment that would have rung forced in lesser hands, floats off the comedic brilliance of Oh, at once natural and ridiculous, as her answers burst out of her via an intuition that could only exist through a lifetime of sisterhood.”

The film is not eligible for an Oscar as I don’t think it will ever have a theatrical release, but is an enjoyable watch if only to see the chemistry between Awkwafina and Oh.


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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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