In 1993, The Joy Luck Club, a ground breaking film, was released as the first mainstream film to feature a largely Asian American cast. The film was well-received, but Hollywood being Hollywood, didn’t try the concept’s potential out again until decades later. Now comes, Crazy Rich Asians, the next mainstream film to feature a predominantly Asian and Asian American cast over twenty years later. Directed by John M. Chu (Now You See Me 2, GI Joe Retaliation), Crazy Rich Asians stand out because of the great cast and a largely sharp script that ticks all the boxes. It’s a good crowd pleaser and a nice callback to 90’s romantic comedies.
Crazy Rich Asians is based on the bestselling novel by Kevin Kwan. It tells the story of a native New York professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) as she goes to Singapore to meet her boyfriend Nick's (Henry Golding) family while attending a wedding. This plot set-up is typical of the romantic comedy genre, but the film really shines due to the lead performances. Constance Wu, who stars in the ABC sitcom, Fresh Off The Boat, is very likable in the lead role playing a determined career women who isn’t about to give her up position just to please her boyfriend. Wu’s performance feels like it’s in the “star making” mold, and her chemistry with newcomer, Henry Golding, a British-Malaysian actor and TV show host, is wonderful. The two actors have great back and forth chatter with each other. Nick's mother is played by Michelle Yeoh, and she is demanding and, quite frankly, awful as she doesn’t want her son to marry an “American”, or someone from a different culture. The rest of Nick's family are British Asian actors with amusing British accents, given the whole culture shock feel of the film.
Crazy Rich Asians boasts some witty funny dialogue, and lightens the Asian cultural stereotypes, for instance, Rachel says, “I’m so Chinese, I’m an Econ professor that’s lactose intolerant”. The film, near the end, gets a bit too melodramatic for my taste with the introduction of a “shocking twist”, that I won’t spoil for you.
Brian Tyler’s musical score is fun, and might just be my favorite of his film scores (Ironman 3, The Fast and The Furious). Since this is not an action blockbuster film like his previous ones, Tyler was not asked to provide a modern action musical score, and the end result is a good, upbeat, jazzy score with a nice, big, love theme, with some Asian styling. The score gives the movie a breezy feeling and is a nice surprise.
Crazy Rich Asians is a very pleasant and well done romantic comedy. Honestly, it's basically Chu's first decent film. Its success should, hopefully, allow Hollywood to cast Asian actors in more parts that aren’t just action films or supporting roles. It’s a film with a theme that anyone can relate to and is delightfully enjoyable as well.
Now playing in Hanover at The Nugget Theater: Monday - Thursday at 4:15 and 6:15 PM, Friday at 4:15, 6:50, and 9:15 PM, Saturday at 1:40, 4:15, 6:50, and 9:15 PM, and Sunday at 1:40, 4:15, and 6:50 PM.