Crazy Rich Asians Movie Review
It really does seem like forever since THE BIG SICK graced audiences with a unique, but familiar perspective on love. That may be because for every gem like that film, audiences are given garbage like the 50 SHADES franchise or HOME AGAIN. CRAZY RICH ASIANS is the kind of once-in-a-while rom-com that reminds audiences just how good the genre can be. It’ll woo any movie goer with its charming cast, fairytale aesthetics and cultural relevance.
Rachel Chu (Wu), an NYU economics professor, is smitten by her ruggedly handsome boyfriend, Nick Young (Golding). For a year, she’s come to know him as a kind and selfless individual, but unbeknownst to her, he’s world-renowned amongst several circles because he’s from the richest family in Singapore. Rachel will be accompanying Nick to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. It should be a bit of romantic escapism for Rachel, but it turns into a crash course lesson on Nick’s wealthy family and the eccentric, bizarre cast of characters surrounding it.
On its surface, CRAZY RICH ASIANS could be called a retread of MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, but unlike the latter, CRAZY RICH ASIANS is more spirited and transcends several of its own genre and sitcom-esque tropes. Rarely does the film spoon feed the culture to audiences that aren’t privy to what they’re being immersed into. The film does sprinkle foreshadowing throughout so that scenes thick within Chinese culture will be recognizable to the most layman of viewers.
Through Rachel, we learn about the generational and cultural clashes between traditional Chinese culture and modern Chinese-American culture. It may seem like a minute detail on its surface, but we learn about how some of Nick’s family clutch to their long held family beliefs like their diamond trinkets. A lesser film would trash the previous generation for its set-in-stone beliefs, but CRAZY RICH ASIANS respects its elders by showing how they can remain noble, but flexible in relation to the next generation.
I promise I’m not trying to paint this incredibly fun movie as a serious meditation on 20th vs. 21st century ideals in Southeast Asia. While Rachel unintentionally makes enemies, she makes a lot of allies who in themselves are worthy of their own paragraph or two (but I won’t bore you or spoil too much). Nick’s cousin, Astrid (Gemma Chan), is the most humble of the elites, seemingly annoying the glitz and glamour, focusing on family, kids and her various charities.
Awkwafina, playing Rachel’s college friend Goh Peik Lin, steals nearly every scene she’s in. She comes from her own affluent family in Singapore, which can be described as JERSEY SHORE in Singapore. Her father might be played by the person with the biggest American star power in the film, Ken Jeong. They’ve seemingly inherited their wealth, utilizing their status to goof around and rub noses with other elitist in the hopes one of their kids might marry into more money. If any movie character and her family was deserving of a spin-off, it’s Lin’s.
CRAZY RICH ASIANS will make you happy and hungry (I had a serious craving for dumplings afterwards). It’s far from perfect, but there’s a lot of fun to be had. I was asked if CRAZY RICH ASIANS was good simply because it exceeded my low bar expectations or if because it was a genuinely good movie. Honestly, it’s both. I didn’t expect much, and I got more than I expected. I’d have no problems watching this movie again or seeing a sequel or two involving these loveable characters. Considering this film is based on a book and that book is the first of a trilogy, my prayers have already been answered.