Crazy Rich Asians (2018) - Review

by - January 02, 2019

Synopsis: Native New Yorker Rachel Chu, is invited to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young to attend a friend's wedding and finally meet his family. It's not until they land in Singapore that Rachel realizes Nick's family is extremely wealthy and influential. Not only must she deal with jealous, judgmental socialites, but Rachel must also contend with Nick's demanding, disapproving mother.

The Only Thing Crazier Than Love Is Family

This movie was fabulous. The script, the cast, the music... it all came together perfectly to create a fresh romantic comedy that doesn't shy away from tension and drama. There is no real 'meet cute', as the movie begins already a year into Nick (Henry Golding) and Rachel's (Constance Wu) relationship. Thankfully the chemistry between these two is so palpable that a meet-cute wasn't necessary.

We already believe they're in love, and we see the tenderness in which Nick cares for Rachel. This was extremely important to convey, otherwise, we spend the rest of the movie not really caring if Rachel wins over Nick's mother, Eleanor (a brilliantly cold Michelle Yeoh). You have to truly want to see these two people make it to the end of the film together, or everything else simply falls apart.

How easy it would have been for Eleanor to be so completely unlikeable as she tries to push Rachel out of Nick's life, but somehow Michelle Yeoh is able to convey Eleanor's love for her children. She truly wants what is best for Nick, even if her own biases and prejudices blind her to the fact that the best for Nick is indeed, Rachel. Had any other actress portrayed Eleanor, I feel like the character would have been the Bad Guy from top to bottom, one we would hope to see miserable and rejected before the credits began to roll. But there is a sympathetic nature to Eleanor, which to me was as important to the story as Nick and Rachel's relationship.

Of course in the midst of the family drama, there is the comedic relief, namely Rachel's friend Peik (a hilarious Awkwafina with quite the memorable haircut) and her father, Wye Mun Goh (Ken Jeong, who does an amusingly savage tongue-in-cheek impression of Hollywood's stereotypical Asian). And what is a rom-com without a fun dressing room montage (set to an Asian cover of Material Girl) or a conclusion set at the airport? Some movies offer up these tropes to some intense eye-rolling, but they're fun and romantic in Crazy Rich Asians, just like the rest of the movie. Have I gushed enough yet?

How refreshing to see an all-Asian cast represented so vividly. Admittedly some of the lesser parts (namely the socialites) are a bit one dimensional, typical 'mean girls/guys', but the leads and significant secondary characters are given a chance to truly shine, and they do. For me, Gemma Chan is a standout as Astrid, a woman dealing with her husband's infidelity. She delivers the best line in the movie to her philandering husband, not with ferocity or anger, but with such clarity and matter-of-factness that it's as effective as a swift punch to the gut (which he more than deserved). I do believe the next movie in the trilogy centers around her character, which thrills me and I cannot wait to see it.

Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Gemma Chan
Directed by: John M. Chu
Rated: PG-13
Watched: 08.19.2018
Fun Facts:
- Crazy Rich Asians was almost a Netflix Original (and trilogy), but both author Kevin Kwan and director John Chu wanted to put the movie in the theaters to show Westernized-Asians on the big screen.
- Ken Jeong called Awkwafina 'Asian Ellen' (Degeneres) on set after it was decided to keep her character in the shorter blonde wig throughout the movie, rather than changing them, as was the original idea.
- Crazy Rich Asians became the highest grossing rom-com in over a decade at $235 million.
- After Coldplay rejected the studio's request to use "Yellow" in the movie, John Chu reached out to the band personally to explain why he wanted to use the song (his desire to 'reclaim' the word from it's usage as a racial slur). Coldplay then granted Chu permission to use the song.
Notable Song: Yellow by Katherine Ho

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