Friday Film Review - “Crazy Rich Asians”

Aug 31, 2018

Breaking the late-summer box office records, “Crazy Rich Asians” is a modern-day Cinderella story set in Singapore. Linda Jager give her take on the film in today’s Friday Film Review.

Before I headed over to Holiday Village to see “Crazy Rich Asians”, I thought I’d be spending two hours watching an over the top comedy about excesses and extravagance of a group of Asian millennials. But within the first few minutes of the film I knew the romantic comedy was going to be much more than I expected.

“Crazy Rich Asians” follows the love story between Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding). Based in New York City, Rachel is a beautiful and smart economics professor at Columbia, while Nick manages his Singapore-based family’s real estate holding stateside. Things have been getting serious between Rachel and Nick, and he decides to bring Rachel back to his native Singapore to attend his best friend’s wedding and meet his family.

Rachel’s never been to Asia, and is excited for the trip, which quickly becomes an extravagant journey once she and Nick arrive at the airport and are whisked away to first class.

Despite dating Nick for more than a year, Rachel has no idea just how wealthy Nick is, but she’s about to find out.

Nick’s mother, Eleanor (played by veteran actress Michelle Yeoh) is the elegant matriarch of one of Singapore’s wealthiest families and is not easily impressed. She quickly sizes up Rachel during their first encounter and decides she will never be good enough for her son. As you can imagine, the visit doesn’t go too well from that point on.

Rachel does find camaraderie in Singapore with one of her college classmates, Peik Lin (played by actress/comedian/rapper Awkwafina). Peik Lin, and her hilarious family (led by her father played by Ken Jeong from “The Hangover”) adds some much-needed comic relief—and grounding—to Rachel’s visit.

Amid the glamorous pre-wedding festivities, all envious eyes are on Rachel who has nabbed Singapore’s most eligible bachelor. Nick’s jealous old girlfriends rally to bully Rachel at any opportunity, while Elanor schemes to find a way to convince Nick to break up with Rachel and move back to Asia.

Much of the film explores the cultural divide of the Singapore-born and raised Nick and Rachel, who was raised by her single Chinese mom in America. While Rachel is seen as a beautiful and accomplished academic in the U.S., she is pegged as an opportunistic gold-digger by the majority of Nick’s family and friends in Singapore.

“Crazy Rich Asians” is gaining notoriety not only for its stellar box office performance, but also for the fact that it’s the first Hollywood production to feature an all-Asian cast since “The Joy Luck Club” in 1993.

“Crazy Rich Asians” is directed by Jon M. Chu, who’s most notable film was the 2011 Justin Bieber documentary “Never Say Never”. The screenplay was written by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, and is based on the 2013 book of the same name, written by Kevin Kwan.

Rated PG-13 (for some suggestive content and language) and running 120 minutes, “Crazy Rich Asians” is a modern-day Cinderella story set against the glitz and glamour of Singapore. It’s definitely a film worth watching.

The KPCW Friday Film Review is sponsored by the Park City Film Series.