No Concessions: “Crazy Rich Asians”

While I made the mistake of purchasing snacks at my local AMC theater ($16 for a large popcorn and drink), I was pleasantly rewarded the most successful “PG-13” rated rom-com in years. Crazy Rich Asians was funny, smart, heartwarming and a wonderful display of a culture we rarely see on the big screen.

Twenty five years after The Joy Luck ClubCrazy is the second major studio film to boast an all-Asian cast. From the leads to extras, the majority of faces on screen are actors of Asian descent. This form of representation is needed and welcomed, now more than ever. But it isn’t the only reason to see the film.

See it because it’s great.

Adapted from the novel of the same name, Crazy follows Constance Wu’s (Fresh Off the Boat) Rachel Chu, a Chinese-American economics professor who finds herself an outsider when boyfriend Nick (Henry Goulding) invites her to his best friend’s wedding in his native Singapore. Not only does she discover he is insanely rich; but, he’s heir to a traditional Chinese dynasty led by Nick’s mother (Michelle Yeoh) whose views of Americans and Rachel is less than admirable.

It takes the normal fish-out-of-water chick flick, and flips it on its head with a refreshing look on class, family and culture within one’s own community. 

If Rachel isn’t struggling to perfect her Mandarin around native-Chinese speakers, she’s being chastised for her simpler tastes. And she not only battles a girlfriend from Nick’s past, but the impenetrable wall of judgment Yeoh’s Eleanor exudes with the most gracious ease. This tenuous relationship comes to a head, threatening Rachel and Nick’s relationship. 

Apart from the central plot, we are introduced to a few other characters and peripheral stories. Nick has a host of cousins with different character flaws forged by their extreme wealth. But we become most familiar with Gemma Chan’s Astrid who’s perfect life isn’t what it seems. And Awkwafina’s Goh Peik brings haughty comic relief as Rachel’s slacker college friend.

Banking on the film’s success, and the fact the novel is a trilogy, we can guarantee to revisit Rachel, Nick and the whole gang for an impending sequel. 

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