Bok bok, bitch.
When it comes to movie genres, romantic comedies rank pretty low on our preference list. Of course there are some fun ones out there, but as a general rule of thumb we’d rather see a bad action movie than a good romcom. Still, we’d heard good things about Crazy Rich Asians, and we thought it might be fun to check it out. Time to fire it up and see if we’re going to regret that decision or not.
Economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) has been in her relationship with boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) for a while now, and Nick brings up the idea of the two of them traveling to Singapore for the wedding of his best friend, Colin (Chris Pang), and to meet his family. Rachel agrees, and the two of them head east on an unexpectedly lavish first-class flight that makes her wonder about her boyfriend’s finances.
After arriving and meeting up with Colin and his fiancee Araminta (Sonoya Mizuno), Rachel looks up old college friend Peik Lin (Awkwafina). During dinner with Peik’s family, she tells them the name of her boyfriend, which causes jaws to drop. It turns out that the Young family is among the wealthiest in the region, and Nick is the expected heir to the fortune.
Rachel finally meets Nick’s mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), who is polite but little more, making her nervous about being accepted. When Nick goes with Colin for a bachelor party, Rachel is invited to go with Araminta. It’s there that she begins to realize the depth of the resentment toward her, in large because of her single-parent upbringing and common standing in a world of big money. Now she must decide if her love for Nick is strong enough to endure this… and his for her.
There are plenty of quality performances from the cast, particularly on the female side. Yeoh, a long-time favourite for her work in Supercop and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, nails it as the all-business mother. She’s offset by Wu, who effectively delivers the “fish out of water” feel of a self-made New Yorker being introduced to the opulent world of the super rich. It’s hard not to root for her.
There’s also a few really fun turns among the smaller roles, starting with Awkwafina, who’s sharp and funny (basically everything she wasn’t in Ocean’s 8, in which she was completely bland). Ken Jeong is suitably over the top as Awkwafina’s dad, and Nick Santos does well in the choicest of the male roles, playing the fashionable Oliver, who befriends Rachel and is given many of the best lines.
Visually, Crazy Rich Asians never fails to impress. The costumes are pristine, the locations are amazing and everyone always looks their best. When you step back and think about some of the money worship contained within the movie it’s a little off-putting, but in the moment (and viewed through the spectrum of Rachel) it sets up a lot of enjoyable moments. And that’s what the film does best, it has fun and gives you the green light to have fun along with it.
While Golding doesn’t do a bad job as the male lead, the character itself is pretty dull, clinging to the “aw shucks, I’m rich, but it doesn’t mean anything” persona throughout. He’s always well mannered, rolls with every misstep and is just the same guy no matter what is going on around him. Yawn.
Crazy Rich Asians provides plenty of entertainment, but that comes almost entirely from the individual scenes and performances, not the big picture story. As noted, we’re not big on romcoms, and even we could see pretty much every wrinkle and plot twist headed our way, so in that respect the film is pretty standard stuff. Some will enjoy the journey to the sappy conclusion, but much of the story had us rolling our eyes.
THE BONUS FEATURES
There isn’t a lot of extras, but the roughly 12 minutes of deleted scenes is clearly the highlight with most of the content actually being of interest. The best of the bunch is the talk between Nick and Eleanor, which is shown as part of a montage sans dialogue in the finished film. You should absolutely take the time to watch it and the other scenes. A gag reel and the ubiquitous “this film is important because…” featurette can probably be skipped.
Despite not being our cup of tea, Crazy Rich Asians proved to be thoroughly enjoyable with its incredible imagery, funny moments and a surprisingly high number of strong performances. It’s well worth taking the time to watch.