Two comic forces collide in Jessica Yu’s delightful new film, Quiz Lady. Both Awkwafina and Sandra Oh play very against type as two sisters who come together in order to get their mother out of a financial jam and to save one devoted pup. Yu has been at the helm of some of television’s hottest dramas of the last few years (Pose, Fosse/Verdon, This Is Us–the list goes on and on), but Quiz Lady invites Yu to really let loose in a whole new way without sacrificing the important bond between her two lead characters.
Awkwafina plays Annie, a button-up office worker who never misses the chance to turn into her favorite game show, Can’t Stop the Quiz. Remember when Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? gripped the nation? Well, Annie has had that Millionaire hold on her for as long as Jeopardy! has been on the air. When her mother skips town and leaves Annie with her gambling debts, this straight-laced accountant has to rely on her sister, Oh’s Jenny, to help her get onto her favorite game show to wipe the slate clean. We have never seen Oh this messy before, and it’s a pure delight.
Yu was anxious to dive into comedic material that depended on physicality. There are many cutaways in Quiz Lady that leave you in a tizzy thanks to the chemistry between Awkwafina and Oh. She reveals that she had a particularly famous fantasy in mind when creating the world of Can’s Stop, and you will thank her for not making Will Ferrell’s character a jerk. Because Yu has a deft hand on drama, her characters are lovable and the comedy never lacks pathos.
Quiz Lady is now streaming on Hulu.