Crazy Rich Asians (2018) is directed by Jon M. Chu and stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan and is based on the international bestseller of the same name. It is a romantic comedy about a young Chinese billionaire introducing his relatively poorer girlfriend to his family in Singapore during a large family wedding.
This movie is loud. An actual loud and colourful extravaganza. But beneath the spectacle and extravagance, essentially you have a very cliched and predictable storyline. Crazy Rich Asians colours a tale as old as time with a palette unused by Hollywood before. An all Asian cast depicting the young billionaires of South East Asia.
This movie succeeds in its superb casting and loveable characters. I don’t think I know a single character in this film that didn’t make me happy, sad, or angry where appropriate. Constance Wu was extremely charming as the economics professor girlfriend Rachel Chu. Alongside her, Golding is equally charming as the dashing billionaire heir Nick Young, refined yet humble. The two actors were extremely likeable from the moment they appeared and were extremely likeable together more importantly. This was the first important thing the movie needed to get right. They succeeded.
The supporting cast was fantastic as well. Everyone did a great job. Michelle Yeoh was great as expected. She was strong and intimidating as the family matriarch, but also hiding a lot of pain and fear. Gemma Chan was fantastic as the kind and classy cousin Astrid. The strong cast really does deliver on the “comedy” aspect of this romantic comedy. I found myself pleasantly impressed by the humour and upbeat vibe of the film, especially in the first half. The cast really made the otherwise lacklustre story enjoyable.
The other thing the film accomplished phenomenally was the pomp and circumstance surrounding the wealth of the Singapore elite. The film left me in more than a few moments mesmerised by the grandiose parties and celebrations the characters went to. It was a charming fantasy.
Props should also be given in depicting a nuanced South East Asian culture. I’m happy to see the direction Hollywood is going these days, from the nearly all black cast and black director of the highly successful black panther movie, to this new successful film it’s great to see the diversity and representation.
Unfortunately though, once the comedy wears off and the spectacle fades away we’re left with a pretty bland and predictable storyline. Crazy Rich Asians has been done for generations and the final act followed such a text book cheesy romcom formula, it could leave Hugh Grant rolling his eyes. By the end of the film, none of the larger more meaningful conflicts set up are resolved. But what’s resolved is that the couple end up together. And that’s important to some people (I guess).
But what this film really does is show the growth in the power of diversity and audience preference. Hollywood is starting to open up new avenues meaning more peoples can be able to tell their stories. Interesting times.