AAPI shows and movies to check out this month


AGBO Production Company Media Kit

Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn Quan Wang in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

By Sinead McDevitt, Contributing Editor

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, so here is a list of films and shows created by and starring AAPI individuals.

Amphibia (Disney+)

When Anne Boonchuy (Brenda Song) is teleported to Amphibia, another world full of human-sized frogs and carnivorous bugs, she seeks refuge with the Plantar family until she can hopefully find her missing friends and a way back home. The show mainly follows the adventures of Anne and Sprig Plantar (Justin Felbinger) and the development of their friendship. 

Creator Matt Braly is, like Anne, Thai-American, and drew on his experiences visiting his mother’s family in Bangkok when he created the show. Anne’s heritage is seen throughout the show, such as in the episode where she helps create a Frog-Thai fusion restaurant in Amphibia. “Amphibia” also took the time to credit all the Korean animators by name in the extended credits for the series finale, which aired on May 14th. 


Minari (Hulu)

“Minari” follows the Yi family, Korean immigrants who recently moved from California to rural Arkansas to start a farm in 1983. The film sees the family adjust to their new surroundings and overcome hardships in trying to create an independent life for themselves. The standout performances are Steven Yuen as the father, Jacob, and Youn Yuh-jung as his mother-in-law Soon-ja. It’s a very intimate film, less about big drama and more about the quiet moments of a family coming together.

The film is semi-autobiographical and based on the life of the director, Lee Isaac Chung. Chung drew inspiration from researching the life and works of novelist Willa Cather, with whom he shares a similar background. After learning about Cather he decided to write down scenes from his childhood, and tie them into a narrative arc about “family, failure and rebirth.”


Saving Face (Hulu)

When it released in 2004, “Saving Face” was the first film about Chinese-Americans bankrolled by a major studio since 1993’s “The Joy Luck Club.” Writer and director Alice Wu started writing the story as a novel, but realized it would work better as a screenplay. Despite protests, she was determined to direct the film herself to stay true to her vision of telling the story of multiple generations of a Chinese-American family.

The film is about Wilhelmina “Wil” Pang (Michelle Krusiec), a successful surgeon who falls for her boss’ daughter, Vivian Shing, an aspiring dancer. As the two navigate their relationship, Wil’s mother is disowned for having a child out of wedlock and moves in with her, creating another obstacle for the relationship with Vivian. In true rom-com fashion, everything ultimately works out, but the ride there is sure to make you laugh.


Better Luck Tomorrow (Hulu)

Before he directed the “Fast & Furious” films three through seven, Justin Lin made his directorial debut with “Better Luck Tomorrow,” a crime drama about Asian American teenagers who are stereotypical honor students by day and commit petty crimes by night.

Ben Manibag (Perry Shen) is a straight-A student going to high school in Orange County who lets off steam by toilet papering houses with his friends. The events of the film kick off when Ben gets roped into bigger and bigger crimes, escalating from cheating on tests to drug use.

Lin was helping coach youth basketball teams while working on the script and said it informed how he wrote about adults’ view of young people in the early 2000s.

“Adults assume that if kids get good grades that means they’re smart, they’re good kids and can be trusted,” Lin said in a 2004 interview. “In reality, those are three separate issues.” 

The film deconstructs the idea of a “model minority” and the kind of pressures those expectations create for AAPI individuals, while being an engrossing crime film on its own.


Everything Everywhere All At Once (In Theaters)

Whether the MCU’s latest offerings are your first introductions to the concept of the multiverse, or you’re already a sci-fi fan familiar with them, you should check out “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” which is currently in theaters. 

It follows Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) who learns that in an alternate universe, she invented a form of interdimensional travel and must now use that technology to stop a threat to the entirety of the multiverse. 

Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert blend different types of film and animation styles together, all converging in a story about being grounded in reality and combating nihilism and hopelessness. Even if you’re familiar with the multiverse, it’s a fun take on the concept with a mostly Asian American cast that is worth checking out if you’re willing to go to a theater, or keeping it in mind for its eventual digital release.