Richard Wong’s “Yes, We’re Open” starring Parry Shen & Lynn Chen as a couple contemplating the adventure of having an open relationship, tackles the subject in a very funny way and yet manages to come full circle in the end to address the issue of an open relationship in a very serious manner without ruining all the humor that came before. Tackling the subject with two Asian-American lead actors in and of itself would make the subject matter fresh and original, but H.P. Mendoza’s script is smartly written and doesn’t attempt to go overboard trying to force the laughs. Parry Shen’s comedic timing is spot-on and he understands that often less is more in a good comedy, like when he is greeted by a quick peck on the lips by Ronald (Kerry McCrohan) and tries to act “free spirited” by suppressing his shock with a simple “OH!.” The kiss isn’t necessarily funny, but Parry’s face and his reaction are a laugh out loud moment.
Parry also has the ability to constantly stick his foot in his mouth while smiling cluelessly throughout the film, constantly creating great, funny moments (the opening wedding scene speech is classic). Lynne Chen’s wonderful performance is a great balance to Parry’s abundant laugh moments and Sheetal Sheth and Kerry McCrohan are the perfect predatory, hot swinging couple out to seduce them. When a comedy can mix drama along with the laughs you end up with a film that is satisfying beginning to end and that’s what you’ll find with “Yes, We’re Open.” It should also be noted that Director Richard Wong didn’t forget that he is a great cinematographer when making this film. There are many visually beautiful moments. If there is a drawback to the film, it’s that it plays like a long scene from a bigger film. More time could have been spend developing the characters and their backgrounds so that the audience actually understands each better and perhaps connects and/or relates to the characters, but that still doesn’t diminish the laughs.
Many of the supporting characters are given almost no characterization beyond simply needing to be people for the main characters to bounce dialogue off of. The abrupt shift to the more mature handling of Sylvia and Luke’s relationship near the end of the film seems all the more jarring because it’s handled so differently earlier. It’s also difficult to really root for the couple, since the two, as a pair – and Luke especially — don’t exactly seem like the most likable people to have around. But, for a smaller feature, Yes, We’re Open does provide some nice laughs, and perhaps a perspective that audiences haven’t seen much of before, both as a film primarily starring and created by Asian-Americans, but also because open relationships between long-term couples don’t happen much in mainstream films.
Shot in San Francisco, a place sexually permissive by U.S. standards, Yes, We’re Open wants to be a flirty, fun film. Yes, We’re Open is a great sex comedy (don’t bring your kids!) that will have people discussing on what the definition of a modern couple really is, as well as the value of secrets in relationships. A comedy that can actually make you think and talk to people and have a conversation? Now that’s something you don’t see everyday. There are some serious issues with the film, but there’s also enough to recommend it, based on the way it and its characters grow.