Crazy Rich Asians proves to be a smart, funny, and clever take on the romantic comedy genre. It also proves that the genre still has some life left in it. And let me tell you. This movie is brimming with life. Thanks to its high-powered all Asian cast as well as director Jon M. Chu and the wonderful screenplay adapted from the best-selling novel by Kevin Kwan, it approaches being a masterpiece.
The movie stars Constance Wu as Rachel Chu, an economics professor dating a young man named Nick Young (Henry Golding), who comes from one of the world’s richest families. Nick decides to invite Rachel to Singapore where his family lives and introduce her to them. They fly due to his being the best man at his best friend’s wedding and that seems like the perfect opportunity.
Once they arrive, Rachel meets a slew of interesting characters including Nick’s mother (Michelle Yeoh) who doesn’t take too much of a liking to her because she’s not pure Asian and Yeoh’s character comes from a long line of a self-contained cocoon of traditions and values and she fears Rachel is trying to Americanize him.
All of these actors lend so much weight to their performances, but perhaps the best and the one certainly having the most fun is Awkwafina as Rachel’s college friend. Her character is described as the Asian Ellen DeGeneres at one point and for every one-liner fired at her, she fires two back.
Crazy Rich Asians gives us characters that are involving and nuanced and funny, and we feel like these are people that we encounter in our everyday lives. Even the wise old grandmother gets a moment or two of sage advice. It also takes the approach of acknowledging stereotypes that come with being an all-star cast of a different race, but it’s smart to break those conventions and see through the taboos.
In addition to the incredible acting and smart, thoughtful dialogue, we also get some gorgeous sights including a lavish wedding and an ending that shows half of the film’s budget went to staging some dazzling pyrotechnics.
In a summer bombarded with superheroes, dinosaurs, and Tom Cruise performing some elaborate stunts, this is the the one movie with some real special effects.
Roger Ebert said once that audiences were willing to pay money to see a movie that they know is going to be mediocre rather than being good. He went on to say that instead of choosing to eat at a fancy French restaurant, they’re more content with burgers.
My advice? Don’t pass up this smorgasbord; you can always get cheeseburgers later.
(Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and language.)