Crazy Rich Asians – Film Review by Katie McCann
Director: Jon M. Chu
Writers: Peter Chiarelli (screenplay by), Adele Lim (screenplay by)
Stars: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh
Romcoms were all the rage in the 1980’s and 90’s. With such classics as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle being Kings of the form, it quickly became a genre for big studios to cash in on. Churning out one mediocre copycat after the other the genre quickly became something of a joke, a place where young beautiful actors’ careers went to die. Hollywood soon fell out of love with the romcom and in the last few years (mostly since Matthew McCnaughey became a “serious” actor) the genre has been decidedly out of fashion. Crazy Rich Asians is the latest return to the old stomping ground and thankfully, for all involved, it is actually rather good.
Based on the book by Kevin Kwan the story follows Rachel Chu who is travelling to Singapore to meet her boyfriend Nick’s family for the first time at his best friend’s wedding. Unknown to Rachel, Nick come from a very rich family. Like, stupid rich. Like, crazy rich, in fact. He is the heir to a multi-billion dollar property development fortune and is essentially unofficial Asian Royalty. Nick’s family are all about status and tradition making Rachel, a NYU professor from a poor immigrant background, entirely unsuited to be dating the golden boy of the family. What ensues over the course of the film is no surprise to anyone. There are tears, betrayals, a kooky best friend and a fabulous dress changing montage. All in all, exactly what you expect from this type of movie. Yet, what Crazy Rich Asians does that most other recent romcoms have failed at is that it is full of heart and genuine humour.
No, they are not trying to reinvent the wheel here, and if you are looking for a new slant on the form this is not where you will find it. But what director Jon M. Chu does do is use the stereotypes of the genre and executes them brilliantly. It is frequently laugh out loud funny, the characters are all actually three dimensional (including Nick’s overbearing mother played wonderfully by screen legend Eleanor Sung-Young, who is so much more than just the villain of the piece), the cinematography is stunning and the story is actually very engaging.
There is very little not to love about Crazy Rich Asians including how refreshingly diverse it is. Made up of an entirely Asian cast it is hugely refreshing to watch. Plus it is worth noting this is the first movie to be produced by a major film company focusing on Asian-Americans in over 25 years. In the wake of Hollywood’s White-Washing scandal and general lack of diversity across the board, everything about Crazy Rich Asians feels like a welcomed breath of fresh air.
My recommendation on this film: If you enjoy a good romcom then this is definitely the movie for you. If Love Actually made you want to gouge your own eyes out with a spoon then best give this a miss. Already a box office smash in the US, Crazy Rich Asians is sure to climb to even greater heights with two more books in the series already awaiting adaptation. Plus, it’s going to do wonders for Singapore’s tourist industry because I don’t think there is any way to watch this movie and not instantly have the desire to fly to Singapore to try the food.