*This is a Non-Spoiler review!
The title of this movie is quite literally what it is about. Based on the book of the same name by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians follows the lives of some crazy, very rich Asians. Even though the title is pretty on the nose, the themes & stories that are portrayed in this film go far beyond those three descriptors. This film was a major positive step for representation. I can’t recall watching any movie that contained an all Asian cast that wasn’t in the kung-fu genre. In it’s most simplistic form, this is a story about a man that takes his girlfriend home to meet his family. It is a universal story. Not once did having an all Asian cast detract or distract from the story being told, in fact in most instances it added to it. Hollywood can’t use the excuse of “there aren’t enough good Asian actors” anymore when confronted with showing diversity in films. Every single character in this film was a well rounded, fleshed out, fully realized person and every single character was played by an Asian actor! Even the side characters had a personality! I hope the success of this film is a watershed moment for the entertainment industry where they realize diversity and representation can and will equal monetary and critical success. People want to see themselves represented as the protagonist in their own stories!
Besides the representation aspect, this film is just fun to watch. The visuals are stunning, showing off a lot of the magnificent landscapes of Singapore as well as making you wish you could eat the food right off the screen. The themes of love vs family, familial expectation and pressure and the treatment of different classes all expertly interweave together creating a complex emotional web worthy of the best daytime soap opera. This romantic comedy follows the standard comedy trope of meeting the significant other’s family and everything succumbing to chaos but it executes it in a fresh, enjoyable take. The basic plot follows Rachel and Nick, living a fun life in New York when Nick invites Rachel to Singapore to attend his best friend’s wedding and meet his family. Rachel soon finds out Nick belongs to one of the wealthiest families in Asia and many people aren’t too happy that Asia’s most eligible bachelor has brought home a Chinese American.
Constance Wu, from Fresh Off The Boat fame, shines as the New York economics professor, Rachel Chu. Her earnestness and relatable personality make Rachel a protagonist that we root for when things for her character start to get rough. Henry Goulding stars as Nick Young, Rachel’s impossibly wealthy boyfriend, in his FIRST EVER MOVIE ROLE!!!! He knocks it out of the park with his charm and wit, so much so that as an audience member you can totally understand why all the women in the film are so gaga over him. Goulding couldn’t have asked for a better debut and it will surely lead to more starring roles for him. He already landed a lead role in Paul Feig’s new crime drama, A Simple Favor, which stars Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively. The supporting cast boasts some great talents as well, from Rachel’s best friend in college played by the rising comedy star Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8), to Nick’s fashionista cousin Astrid, Gemma Chan (catch her in the upcoming Captain Marvel) and his overbearing mother Eleanor played by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon legend Michelle Yeoh.
With many laugh out loud moments (mostly provided by Awkwafina), along with some tense family drama and sweeping romantic scenes, Crazy Rich Asians provides an enjoyable 2 hour escape that leaves us with the theme of family and reminds us to stand up for ourselves even when others seek to tear us down.
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