Book Review | Waxing On

If he writes a follow-up memoir, will it be called Waxing Off?

Bad jokes aside, I read Ralph Macchio’s memoir, Waxing On. This tells the story of how he got the role in the famous movie The Karate Kid and his personal journey with fame, family, and life in general. He talks about what it was like to film, what the aftermath of its massive success was, various anecdotes related to the production, and the movie’s legacy. Also, the audiobook—which is the version I read—is narrated by Macchio himself, which is fun.

Overall, I quite liked this! Macchio is an excellent and personable narrator. You can really tell he’s fond of the Karate Kid franchise, despite some ups and downs with it throughout the years. I loved hearing some behind the scenes stories, especially when he talked about his friendship with Noriyuki “Pat” Morita. It was fun to see these glimpses of what he was like in real life to contrast with his performance as Mr. Miyagi (the best character in the franchise, hands down). I also enjoyed hearing how his friendship with William Zabka has grown over the years, and hearing about how the show Cobra Kaia new favorite of mine—came to be.

A lot of this book sort of seems to view the filming of the first movie through rose-colored glasses, but considering how much it has shaped Macchio’s life, and touched millions of others, that is perhaps somewhat to be expected. However, I also liked how Macchio spoke so candidly about his fears of and initial pushback against typecasting; his experiences seem to highlight the ways corporate Hollywood tends to be so cautious when it comes to casting. Once he was seen as Daniel LaRusso, it was almost impossible to escape that perception, when I believe that audiences surely would still be open to seeing him in other things. What a strange industry, though.

In the end, I don’t have much more to say beyond that Waxing On is an entertaining memoir. If you aren’t a fan of the Karate Kid movies or the Cobra Kai show, you probably won’t get much out of this. But if you are a fan, give this a read (either in print or audio), because I can almost guarantee you’ll find something new to appreciate about this fun little cinematic universe.

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