WARNER BROS. PICTURES (2018)
Director: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, Nico Santos, Lisa Lu, Ken Jeong, Michelle Yeoh
“I'm so Chinese. I'm an econ professor that's lactose intolerant.”
the same time. A romantic comedy packed full of rich people, lovely looking food, beautiful scenery ofAfter 25 years, a mainstream Hollywood production has an all-Asian cast. Fitting then, that the movie in question would be called Crazy Rich Asians – Jon M. Chu’s adaptation of the novel and a whole lotta heart.
Economics professor Rachel Chu (Wu) has it all going for her – a good job, good life and a hunky boyfriend in history teacher Nick Young (Golding). With one of Nick’s friends getting hitched to a fashion icon back home in Singapore, it’s time for Rachel to meet Nick’s family. To her surprise, she learns that Nick’s family is insanely rich and he is essentially royalty back home – and much to the chagrin of Nick’s authoritarian mother, Eleanor (Yeoh), Rachel doesn’t meet the high family standards. With the help of old friend Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina) and new friend Astrid Leong-Teo (Chan), she must win the respect of Eleanor and her mother, or face losing Nick forever.
Kevin Kwan’s novel received plenty of praise upon its release and his plan to “introduce a contemporary Asia to a North American audience” led to the release of this movie. It certainly does that – and it looks like an awful lot of fun! (Though being rich may further that). Full of fun, colour and great performances, the movie maintains a consistent level of entertainment throughout, despite being slightly too long for its own story. The two leads are excellent together – Wu leads the movie wonderfully with a cool, confident air and Golding is ridiculously charming – and for the majority of the flick, you’ll be laughing away.
Representation matters. To say otherwise is plain ridiculous. 2018 has seen representation take big strides and long may it continue. The cast of Crazy Rich Asians are uniformly good throughout, especially Michelle Yeoh – who can kill with a glance – and Awkwafina, finally getting a chance to shine following a spare performance in Ocean’s 8. The screening I was in erupted upon the sheer sight of Ken Jeong, and his character steals the main laughs throughout.
Together with DoP Vanja Cernjul, Chu has crafted a splendid looking movie. Contemporary city shots are married with lavish mansion parties perfectly, and the colour palette overall is gorgeous. A wedding scene later on in the movie is the stuff that dreams are made of, it’s pure beauty and will haunt fiancés and boyfriends the world over for years to come. It’s also well-written, the narrative itself isn’t terribly new for the genre, the journey to reach the destination is engaging and there are a few subversions along the way. As mentioned, the humour is spot on nearly every time despite the movie opting for more rom than com.
It may not be anything particularly new, but what Crazy Rich Asians does well is present well-crafted and likeable characters, an enjoyable story and some good laughs to create a real feel-good movie. Constance Wu and Henry Golding really shine through here and the future is bright for them, and with a sequel in the works, we’ll be seeing more of them in this guise too.
September 2nd 2018