Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians
8 10

PLOT: Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an NYU economics professor, travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend Nick’s (Henry Golding) family – who turn out to be extremely wealthy staples of high society – thrusting her into an incredible world of wealth and privilege.

REVIEW: CRAZY RICH ASIANS hits the screen riding a trail of publicity over the fact that it’s the first studio-financed American film since THE JOY LUCK CLUB to have a predominantly Asian cast. An adaptation of the book by Kevin Kwan, many see this as a litmus test which will hopefully help remedy the paucity of leading roles for Asian Americans. Thus, a lot is riding on its success.

Lucky then that CRAZY RICH ASIANS is good, in fact, I’d wager it’s one of the better “love lives of the rich and famous” movies to come out in some time – certainly better than the SEX & THE CITY movies. The reason – Jon M. Chu’s film has a soul and anchors the eye candy excess in a compelling cultural narrative that should strike a chord with a wide audience – Asian or not.

It’s certainly the best thing Chu’s ever done, and it’s incredible to think that the confident, skilled director behind this is also the one who inflicted JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS on the world. Certainly, he reveals new facets of his talent here, opting for an appropriately flashy style, but also, in some subtle ways, turning something of a critical eye to the shallower aspects of his character’s lives. It’s there in the disdainful way they treat their staff – or a late party sequence that turns into a nightmarish carnival. A less interesting director would have just made it glamour porn. This is that – to a degree – but not only that.

The story is pretty compelling compared to similar stories that have been told. In the typical American version, Rachel being whisked away by the handsome Nick would have been the happily ever after climax. Here – it’s just the beginning. If Rachel wants him she’s going to have to navigate a surprisingly cut-throat social circle and consent to living under a cold, extended family’s microscope. Basically, things are going to be complicated and a happily ever after ending might be unsustainable.

However, it should be said that these deeper aspects are secondary, and for good reason, I guess as the film really is, at its heart, escapism. It works extremely well in that regard, with sumptuous visuals and production design giving us entrée into a world very few of us could ever dream of. Things are tacky and gauche, but that’s the point.

It’s really well cast, and stars Constance Wu and Henry Golding make good cases for themselves as potential breakout stars. Wu gives Rachel some real backbone, while Golding is dashing (if they ever cast an Asian James Bond – he’d be a great choice). Awkwafina is good too as Rachel’s BFF, with just enough Ken Jeong as her nouveau riche dad. Michelle Yeoh is especially good as Nick’s complicated mother – a tough role as it could have easily been reduced to shrewishness. Gemma Chan also has a few really nice scenes as Nick’s beautiful, poised cousin.

I should mention, the audience I saw CRAZY RICH ASIANS which (which was predominantly non-Asian) absolutely ate this up, growling with approval during Golding’s beefcake shots, hissing and dissing Yeoh when she did something nasty, and cheering during the end credits. It smells like a sleeper hit, and it’s the first really good date movie to come out in a long time. Even if the trailers haven’t done much for you – give it a shot. You’ll be thoroughly entertained. I was.

Source: JoBlo.com



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