REVIEW

Crazy Rich Asians

OR (Tropes Need Confidence)




WORDICT

Outstanding!






ELITE METER
0
%








BYTE THE BULLET

Crazy rich on style, sexiness, and a whole lot of on-point commentary. Recommended.

PLOT

Economics professor Rachel Chu accepts her boyfriend Nick’s invite to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore, unaware that she’s going to be thrown into a quagmire of privilege, petty behavior, and the towering presence of Nick’s disapproving mother.


As the credits rolled for Crazy Rich Asians, I whipped up my phone to take notes of all the things about the movie that made me so giddy, and then it just hit me—we haven’t been talking about Constance Wu enough. Known for her supporting role in indie drama-series EastSiders and ABC’s Fresh off the Boat, Wu is a phenomenal actor, and for her to have bagged a sans-stereotype top-billing gig in Jon M. Chu’s (Now You See Me 2, 2016) latest isn’t just impressive; it’s quite overdue. While she’s quite the driving force of this romantic comedy though, there’s a whole lot more the film overall gets right. But I’m probably getting ahead of myself, so let’s back up a bit.

Crazy Rich Asians is a mad, mad rollercoaster, but it’s not without purpose.

Crazy Rich Asians is a mad, mad rollercoaster, but it’s not without purpose.

Having someone like Chu—who’s known mostly for helming sequels to films like the G. I. Joe and Step Up series, among other things—as the director might look troubling on paper, but just hear me out, because, with Crazy Rich Asians, he seems to have come up with his first bona fide success. Based on the first in novelist Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich trilogy, the film balances sharp cultural commentary and astonishingly fresh direction with the kind of classic, escapist tone that a lot of filmmakers seem to have forgotten how to use in their recent stabs at romance.

Now the film could have been a lot more than what it is—its narrative, for one, has real discriminatory and privilege problems that, while some readers say Kwan’s source material was aware of, this movie is only slightly shaky on. There’s also a subplot on a marriage thrown into severe dysfunction on account of toxic male ego that isn’t necessarily given its individual space. While these issues aren’t entirely unfounded, Crazy Rich Asians still succeeds at what it wanted to be—a highly entertaining movie about impossibly gorgeous people in love, championing Asian-American representation in the spectrum of an all-punches-pulled experience of pure Hollywood glitz.

(L-R) Constance Wu and Henry Golding star in Jon M. Chu's CRAZY RICH ASIANS, a Warner Bros. Pictures, Color Force, and Ivanhoe Pictures release.

Crazy Rich Romance

Constance Wu and Henry Golding star in Jon M. Chu's Crazy Rich Asians, a Warner Bros. Pictures, Color Force, and Ivanhoe Pictures release.

Boasting romance, a whole lot of well-timed humor, and the escapist ambition reminiscent of movies like Win a Date with Tad Hamilton and Notting Hill, Crazy Rich Asians is a mad, mad rollercoaster, but it’s not without purpose. Intricately layered within the film’s narrative are sociopolitical commentaries on tribalism and classism with a balance that’s both impressive and, mostly, successful. A somewhat painful scene in the movie’s first half centers around a conversation between Nick (Henry Golding) and his mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh). The latter’s disapproval of Rachel becomes increasingly apparent in the minutes that pass as she disdainfully calls her a “Chinese-American.”

[There’s] a whole lot of subtext that throws heavy shade at the dangerous obsession many have with racial purity.

[There’s] a whole lot of subtext that throws heavy shade at the dangerous obsession many have with racial purity.

Ironically, considering the controversies surrounding the casting of actors Golding and Sonoya Mizuno, the whole exchange teeters to an accidental satire of its pre-production woes. Tying into its opening scene—the Young family being turned away from an upscale hotel in London by an all-White managerial staff, it brings forth a disturbingly real problem of the third-culture identity crisis. You’ll never be “enough,” as Eleanor facetiously states to Rachel, to be the ethnicity you identify as, but you aren’t white enough (read: really just white) to recognize with the predominantly white country you’ve lived all your life in either.

Sure, the fact that the commentary isn’t explored any further can leave some dissatisfied—but that’s not the point. Crazy Rich Asians is a big, gorgeously escapist romance with larger-than-life set-pieces, towering performances by Wu, Awkwafina, and Yeoh, and a whole lot of subtext that throws heavy shade at the dangerous obsession many have with racial purity. And even if you completely miss out on it, it’s a great time at the movies and the kind of comfort food that’s both guilt-free and unabashedly entertaining.


VERDICT

On the surface, Crazy Rich Asians isn’t anything more than an escapist destination-wedding romantic-comedy. Look beyond the cover, however, and you’ll find a substantial commentary on the harmful side-effects of tribalism, the third-culture identity, and the double-edged sword it holds over the people who are in the middle of it all. Then again, it’s the best kind of mainstream rom-com you can have, and—if nothing else—it’s crazy rich on non-stop entertainment. Highly recommended.

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

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Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook Twitter

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook Twitter

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.