FILM REVIEW: CRAZY RICH ASIANS
BY SCOTT PETERSON
To be completely transparent, I walked into Hollywood’s buzzworthy summer movie darling Crazy Rich Asians with a certain degree of consternation. Every year we slog through an overabundance of formulaic rom-coms that are either chock full of sappy saccharine or are disease of the week vehicles designed to manufacture hollow tears. You know, the kind that end up playing on a loop on the Lifetime Movie Network. Thankfully, my trepidation turned out to be baseless. Although I haven’t read the popular novel by Kevin Kwan that the film is based on, and have no real baseline when it comes to how page translates to the screen, Crazy Rich Asians won me over from the opening credits.
Nick Young (Henry Golding) and Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) are the perfect, young New York couple. Rachel is a Chinese-American economics professor at NYU and Henry is your average, everyday bachelor who enjoys playing basketball at the YMCA and binge watching Netflix with Rachel’s pilfered password. Nick invites Rachel to Singapore to attend his cousin’s wedding and to subsequently meet Nick’s family. There’s just one small problem: Nick has successfully managed to conceal the fact that the Young clan is one of the richest families in all of Asia. Luckily, Rachel’s old college roomate Peik Lin Goh ( a scene stealing Awkwafina) lives in the vicinity and quickly and hilariously informs Rachel what she is up against.
The moment Rachel sets foot in Singapore, she’s immediately subjected to resentment and ridicule by Nick’s family, most notably by Nick’s mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh). Moments of tension ensue as culture and class systems clash. It’s at this point in the film that Rachel quickly realizes her place in the food chain. There is a scene towards the end of the film between Rachel and Eleanor playing a game of mah-jongg,that might just be the finest and most compelling scene that I’ve witnessed in a movie this year. Crazy Rich Asians is a hilarious romantic comedy masterpiece that will have crowds cheering and exiting theaters filled with feelings of jubilance, joy and dare I say… Love.