“Crazy Rich Asians”

Love’s ups and downs


“Crazy Rich Asians” is a prime example of energy-induced enjoyment that romantic comedies don’t always pull off. I don’t pretend to be an expert in that area, but when a film gives deep insight to various cultures and perspectives, it does well to listen. Watching a drunk playboy use a rocket launcher for fireworks is just one of the film’s bonus features.

For young lovers Rachel and Nick, things are going smoothly until a wedding invitation calls Nick back overseas. In one of the film’s best sequences, we see how quickly gossip about the unobserved pair travels from New York to Nick’s family in Singapore. Nick’s mother, Eleanor (the incredible Michelle Yeoh), is the last one in the line and is, to put it mildly, apprehensive. The family is wealthy, Christian, and has a reputation to uphold. In her mind, Rachel could ruin everything.

That’s not to say Rachel is actually a bad match. Quite the contrary! As an actress, Constance Wu is very resourceful in the role as she has to adjust to new circumstances or characters frequently. Eleanor and others look at her as an outsider, dismissing her Asian-American heritage and career as a college professor while Rachel simply tries to survive each new party with a good impression. The title is completely accurate as almost every scene is set in extravagant homes and locales with various characters, many of whom have actual parts to play.

Although the film focuses on Rachel and Nick’s relationship, several others fill the runtime with actual potency. Rachel’s pal, Peik Lin (Awkwafina), is supportive and silly in a way most friends would surely appreciate, making a decision or two that could potentially save the day. Nick’s cousin, Astrid (Gemma Chan), was refreshing to say the least, as she displayed wealth, kindness, and strength, all while dealing with a struggling marriage. Despite her unfair treatment of Rachel, Eleanor is not evil. She simply sees things from a different perspective and sometimes goes too far.

None of these characters are perfect, nor should they be. But they all are unique, and as such, they go a long way toward breaking Asian stereotypes. Struggles of the heart can happen to anyone, and director John Chu balances the ideas of family and love with ease. By the time the credits began to roll, each character had learned something new. It’d probably be in our best interest to do the same.


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