A Tourist’s Guide to Love movie review (2023)

Director Steven K. Tsuchida, a TV veteran, was also behind 2021’s “Resort to Love,” another Netflix romantic comedy set in a picturesque vacation destination. This is pure formula, but the leads have such a sweet chemistry with each other, and the locations are so enticing, that you may as well just surrender.

Cook stars as Amanda Riley, an uptight, Los Angeles-based travel agent living a safe and predictable existence with her boring accountant boyfriend, John (Ben Feldman). Amanda’s boss (and apparently only friend), Mona (Missi Pyle), insists John is going to propose to her. Instead, he tells her he’s taking a job in Ohio and putting their relationship on hold. (Julia Shiplett makes the most of a brief supporting role as Amanda’s unimpressed manicurist.)

Stunned, Amanda agrees to Mona’s suggestion that she travel to Vietnam undercover to scope out a local tour company with the possibility of her firm buying it. This is also her chance to eat-pray-love her way out of heartache. Plus, she’ll be there for the annual Tet celebration, which just happens to be all about renewal. Would any of this actually happen in real life? No. Would a spoiled hotel heiress actually hit her head on a tree at a ski resort, suffer amnesia and fall for the hunky, widowed dad who owns a charming bed and breakfast? Probably not. We don’t watch these kinds of movies for realism.

And so Type-A Amanda becomes part of a tour group led by the handsome and soulful Sinh (Scott Ly) and his effervescent cousin, Anh (Quinn Truc Tran). Screenwriter Eirene Tran Donohue tries somewhat to flesh out the motley assemblage of fellow travelers, but she saddles them with awkward small talk, and no one is terribly interesting. The inordinately prepared Amanda insists on adhering to the itinerary because she wants to get the most out of her covert mission, but the easygoing Sinh takes a more spontaneous approach which—spoiler!—Amanda eventually learns to enjoy. Sinh also happens to have just the right profound thing to say for every occasion, which speaks to the flux in which Amanda finds herself. (Example: “A tourist wants to escape life. A traveler wants to experience it.”) Again, these are familiar types, but Cook’s likability softens her character’s pushy, impatient traits, and the charismatic Ly’s understated delivery makes Sinh’s platitudes less cheesy than they might sound.