Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Director – John M. Chu
Writer – Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim
Starring – Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh
Rating – PG-13
Genre – Romance, Comedy
Metascore – 74/100
Rotten Tomatoes – 93%
Crazy Rich Asians adds to the recent wave of romantic comedies capturing the popular imagination, including To All the Boys I Loved Before and Set It Up. And I couldn’t be happier about the trend. Rom-Coms are tough movies to make. The genre is full of cliches and tired plots, but recent entries prove there are still good stories to tell. Crazy Rich Asians is no exception. With charming characters, a culturally informed story, and an excellent balance of comedy and romance, this film is a delight.
Crazy Rich Asians centers around Rachel Chu and her boyfriend Nick as they travel to Nick’s home in Singapore for a wedding. This is the first time Rachel meets any of Nick’s family, and she quickly finds out that they are not necessarily a normal family. While in Singapore, Rachel has to contend with wealthy socialites, quirky relatives, and Nick’s less-than-approving mother. While this may seem like a familiar “Prince and Pauper” story, the cultural context of Crazy Rich Asians is what sets it apart. Asian culture and norms do not just run parallel to the plot for the sake of exoticism, but are woven deeply into both major plot points and little character interactions. The cultural setting and context provides significant uniqueness and depth to the film — adding just as much to the romance as to the comedy.
The main characters in Crazy Rich Asians are charming and empathetic. While some of the very minor characters slip into cliches of the genre, like vapid socialites and amoral family members, the central cast gives incredible performances. There are a few primary story threads that run through the movie, and they all succeed on the back of believable chemistry and developed relationships between the characters. Beyond that, the film balances comedy and romance with excellence. Lesser Rom-Coms lean too far in one direction or the other, often spending most of the runtime on one liners and jokes, which leaves emotional, romantic moments unearned and unfulfilling. This movie threads the needle well, taking more time to flesh out relationships between characters, and letting comedy flow organically from interactions.
A small issue with the film is the lengthy two-hour runtime. While Crazy Rich Asians is captivating, it definitely could have been trimmed down a bit. A few of the scenes played mostly for laughs go on a few minutes too long, but overall the film uses its time wisely. As a not-so-secret lover of romantic comedies, it is refreshing to see movies like Crazy Rich Asians attain commercial success. Even more than that, it’s incredible to see stories rooted in cultures and played by actors that, historically, have not seen much screen time. Stories like this have the power to allow audiences to experience cultures not their own, and allow others to finally see themselves on the big screen. While Crazy Rich Asians is not the first film in theaters to focus on representation, I hope its commercial success continues this trend.
Author: Josh Johnson