Hot Take: Crazy Rich Asians isn’t good just because of its woke casting. It’s good, period. A very good romantic comedy that’s a pure escape from the heavier flicks we’ve been inundated with.
Every time I have to do something where my handwriting is in the spotlight, the same comment comes out. “That’s impressive handwriting… for a guy!” No, sir or ma’am, that’s impressive handwriting for anyone! While that’s a very petty example of our insensitive stereotyping and generalizing of the gender and racial issues we face, the reviews for Crazy Rich Asians have been very positive but also ridiculous condescending and oversimplified. Many can’t just call Crazy Rich Asians a good movie which it is. There’s an obsession with patting the romantic comedy based on the novel of the SAME NAME (Let that sink in a bit) for having an all-Asian cast. Ken Jeong was born in Detroit, by the way… not that that’s important. It’s ok to only look the part as long as you are of Asian descent, I guess? It’s too confusing to me, honestly. Crazy Rich Asians shouldn’t be boosted or lambasted for its casting of people of Asian descent. Honestly, that’s a no brainer. Instead, where Crazy Rich Asians should be getting accolades is for its excellent script, great performances, funny, escapist plot and filling a void in Hollywood that was left when the cinema seemingly abandoned the romantic comedy a few years ago to the point where now it feels refreshing when a good one comes along. And Crazy Rich Asians is a very good one.
In Crazy Rich Asians, Rachel (Constance Wu), an Economics professor at NYU, has been seeing Nick (Henry Golding) for some time. Heading back to Singapore for a wedding, Nick asks Rachel to go with him to attend the wedding where he’s the best man and to meet his family. Rachel doesn’t know much about his family but begins thinking something is unusual when they fly first class to his home because his family is in business with the airline. Once she gets to Singapore, Rachel finds out that Nick is Nick Young, son of one of the wealthiest families in Asia. There to witness the marriage between best friend Colin (Chris Pang) and his fiance Araminta (Sonoya Mizuno), Rachel finds time to catch up with one of her college classmates Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina). While eating lunch with her and her family (which includes Jeong as her father and Koh Chieng Mun as her mother), Rachel is clued in on just how rich Nick’s family is. This requires one of the film’s many makeover scenes that Rachel is put through because this film is obsessed with pretending Wu is somehow not beautiful without some amazing dress. It’s not as bad as when She’s All That pretended like Rachel Leigh Cook wasn’t beautiful by throwing glasses and suspenders on her but it’s pretty close. Eventually, Rachel and her friend make it to what Rachel thought would be an intimate family dinner party but turns out to be a huge social affair at the family’s palatial estate. At the event, Rachel realizes the uphill battle she’s facing being accepted by Nick’s affluent mother who has different plans for Nick’s future.
The romantic comedy does a great job of balancing heart and laughter. Wu and Golding make a believable couple and they sell the love story well. Leave out the casting which in the U.S. has received overwhelming praise and outside the U.S. (especially in Asian countries) has faced harsh criticism due to it’s lack of Southeast Asian cast members. Director Jon M. Chu, based on his resume which includes Jem and Holograms, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Now You See Me 2, delivers an unexpectedly strong flick which is adeptly adapted from the Kevin Kwan novel. With two more books in the series (China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems) and the amazing reviews the film is receiving, it would be unsurprising to see Crazy Rich Asians get a sequel. Based on the plots of the subsequent novels, it’ll be interesting to see if the films go that way as the first movie already veers from the source material which makes it difficult to continue down the same path. Not impossible but difficult.
All those are side issues though and take the focus away from what is one of the best romantic comedies (a seemingly dying breed of film) of 2018. We’re counting Love, Simon as a romantic comedy and giving that the nod as best romantic comedy of the year but Crazy Rich Asians is a strong runner up. If for no other reason, Crazy Rich Asians delivers some stunning visuals as it shows off the beauty of some of Singapore’s unique architecture, spotlights swanky fashion and no one throws parties like anyone associated with the Young family, apparently. Expect the film to drive some new trends. Hopefully it’s not a spoiler to mention that there’s eventually a few wedding scenes and it wouldn’t be surprised for viewers to be inspired by the aesthetic choices. It was surprising to read that the film was 2 hours and 1 minute as it never feels like it. it’s such an escapist experience, spending another half hour with these characters would have been a welcome experience. If you’ve been longing for a more breezy cinematic experience, Crazy Rich Asians should be right up your alley.
Funny, breezy and cute, Crazy Rich Asians should hit the spot if you have an ounce of romantic spirit inside you.
It’s still summer and you need to see someone blow stuff up real good to be entertained.