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TIFF 2023 Review: Quiz Lady – “A fun and delightful comedy”

Awkwafina and Sandra Oh in QUIZ LADY. Courtesy of TIFF

Have you ever wondered from the warmth and comfort of your couch if you could win Jeopardy?  Sure, you know all the answers at home, but wouldn’t it be different in the studio, in front of people, with an audience on the other end of the camera?  Anne (Akwafina), never one to put herself front and centre, is about to find out.

Anne prefers the comfort of her own home or blending into the background (quite literally with her cardigan choices) at the accounting firm where she works.  She comes home every day, and an alarm on her phone goes off to watch ‘Can’t Stop the Quiz,‘ a nightly game show.  With her elderly, obese pug, Mr. Linguine, by her side she plays along.  And she answers every single question.  She’s been watching the show, (hosted by a lovable Will Ferrell) since she was a kid.  It gave her comfort in an otherwise unstable home.

But everything gets turned upside down when her sister Jenny (Sandra Oh) comes to town.  She’s all big dreams and the centre of attention, the exact opposite of Anne, who has always walked the expected path.  When a video Jenny captures of her sister playing the quiz show goes viral, Anne is horrified.  She’s even more upset when Mr. Linguine gets dog-napped by a mobster who wants to collect on their mother’s gambling debts.  Their only hope of rescuing the beloved canine is Anne’s vast knowledge and putting it to the test on Can’t Stop the Quiz.  That is if she can get over her fears and become a champion.

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Working from a script by Jen D’Angelo, director Jessica Yu commits fully to the comedy here.  There are so many small details from the name of the accounting firm (CP Yay!) to the number on the door of Anne’s cranky neighbour (played by Holland Taylor) being 666 that make Quiz Lady just a joy to take in.  Plenty of those details you see over the course of the film come into play as well at the end in a clever way.  It never quite finds that balance between the sister story and the comedy to have an emotional impact, but that’s not why you’re watching this movie.

It’s unexpectedly good casting to have Awkwafina play the ‘straight man’ character to Oh’s over-the-top Jenny, both playing against type in their respective roles.  Awkwafina gets her moments of comedy, but largely she plays Anne with the right amount of introverted, shoulder-slumped, wallflower nature that makes her even more sympathetic when the extroverted, loud Jenny comes into her life.  Best known for her dramatic roles in Grey’s Anatomy and Killing Eve, Sandra Oh shows she also has the comedic timing and chops to be successful in this realm as well.

Quiz Lady certainly does toe the line between funny and silly in spots (occasionally it might just put one toe over) but overall it brings the laughs and speeds through its 99-minute run time.  It also has a cameo that’ll tug at the heartstrings.  Overall, you won’t be disappointed if you sit down with a bowl of popcorn and a glass of wine on a Friday night with this one.  Quiz Lady is a fun and delightful comedy that’ll be an easy weekend watch from your couch with your very own Mr. Linguine by your side.

Quiz Lady had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival September 9, 2023.  For more information go to  It will hit Hulu in the U.S. and Disney+ in other territories starting November 3, 2023.

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