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REVIEW: Crazy Rich Asians is Crazy Fun!

 
Constance Wu as Rachel Chu in "Crazy Rich Asians" (c) Warner Bros.
Constance Wu as Rachel Chu in "Crazy Rich Asians" (c) Warner Bros.
Constance Wu as Rachel Chu in "Crazy Rich Asians" (c) Warner Bros.

 
Overview
 

Directed by: John M. Chu
 
Produced by: Nina Jacobson Brad Simpson John Penotti
 
Written By: Based on the novel by Kevin Kwan
 
Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Nico Santos, Awkwafina,
 
MTRCB Rating: PG
 
Genre: ,
 
FG RATING
9.5
9.5/ 10


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Raves


Superb cast! Exotic setting and location, details on props and fashion are point.

Rants


Can Nick Young be so dense?


  Romantic Comedies are making a comeback this year, starting with Netflix’s surprise success stories “Set It Up” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” the latter being based on a best selling novel and having an Asian-American as its lead. Which seems to be the perfect precedent for a big studio’s long overdue RomCom Comeback in […]

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Posted August 27, 2018 by

 
FULL REVIEW
 
 

 

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Constance Wu plays Rachel Chu in “Crazy Rich Asians” (c) Warner Bros.

Romantic Comedies are making a comeback this year, starting with Netflix’s surprise success stories “Set It Up” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” the latter being based on a best selling novel and having an Asian-American as its lead. Which seems to be the perfect precedent for a big studio’s long overdue RomCom Comeback in “Crazy Rich Asians”. Which is also based on a book but this adaptation features an all Asian cast, something which hasn’t happened in 25 years (the last film, featuring an all Asian cast was “The Joy Luck Club”).
“Crazy Rich Asians” is the long overdue Romantic Comedy Comeback that the big studios have been missing. It has all the ingredients and technique for the “perfect dumpling” with comedic flair and timing in the bag with thespian Constance Wu and scene stealer Akwafina. 
Of course you also can’t enough eye candy in the form of the goddess Gemma Chan and hunky leading man, British-Malaysian Henry Golding.
Crazy Rich Asians

Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, Constance Wu. (c) Warner Bros.

Constance Wu plays Rachel Chu, a New York Economics Professor of Game Theory. In the book, she is simply a college professor and it was nice to see her in her element, in the opening sequence of the film, when she demonstrates in a game of cards the concept of playing “not to lose”, which becomes handy in a climactic game of mah-jong towards the end of the movie.

She is invited by her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) also a professor in the same university to go to Singapore to attend his best friend’s wedding and to meet his family. Now Nick has been very secretive about his family, often changing the subject whenever it comes up, Rachel is so clueless about meeting her boyfriend’s ‘very Asian’ family that she seeks advise from her mom. Who, after picking an unflattering red dress (its a lucky color) reminds her that even if she ‘looks Chinese’ she is still different from them since she grew up in the United States. In the book this is called ‘ABC’ (American Born Chinese) and as Rachel’s hilarious and outfit prepared college friend Goh Peik Link (Awkwafina) puts it -

“-you’re a banana. Yellow on the outside. White on the inside”.

What Rachel doesn’t know is that Nick belongs to one of the richest families in Singapore (like old money rich) and has long been the most eligible bachelor and with his looks and his money, its claws out and every girl for herself. As Rachel soon finds herself dodging ex-girlfriends, dealing with catty social climbers and facing Nick’s mom, the cold and steely Michelle Yeoh.

Viewers can relax though as Rachel also has a couple of friends in her corner, the previously mentioned Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina) who is also rich but new rich and a bit gauche as compared to Nick’s family. Awkwafina grabbed the role and made it in her own, making Peik Lin so hilarious that even her body language will have you cracking up and Nick’s cousin the unicorn, black sheep Oliver played by our very own ‘kababayan’ Nico Santos.

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Awkwafina, Nico Santos and Constance Wu. (c) Warner Bros.

Navigating through the treacherous ‘how-much-are-you-worth’ waters of Singapore’s elite is a new setting for our unknowing heroine and a refreshing one for audiences. This new-age Cinderella story also comes with culture and history and is set on the island of Singapore, a not too common setting in Hollywood films and combined with the laughs and the “will they end up together” romantic conflict, and the absurdly rich details in fashion, jewelry and the wedding of the century make for a unique movie experience.

The fashion is so on point that Araminta Lee (who is marrying Nick’s best friend) played by the Japanese-British model Sonoya Mizuno wears exactly what she wears in the book. Pajamas – to pick up Nick and Rachel at the airport and a gold jumpsuit (of course) when they set off to her bachelorette party to a private island (as if you should ask).

The Rolex featured in the movie, a ‘Paul Newman’ Rolex is the record holder for the most expensive watch ever sold (whistles) author Kevin Kwan wanted all the details on point.

Being a big music nerd, I like that director Jon M. Chu specifically chose Mandarin versions of English pop songs to be used in the film, as to him it reflects what Asian-Americans feel and I definitely give a thumbs up to the upbeat and fitting “Material Girl” to the mellow and tear inducing “Yellow”. There are also a couple of very 20’s jazzy numbers in Mandarin and English to reflect the history of Singapore.

“Its a new age Cinderella story but this time the stepmother and the stepsisters are more lethal.”

Crazy Rich Asians’ strength comes from its diverse and talented cast. From Asian royalty like Michelle Yeoh to Asian Americans like Rachel Wu and Awkwafina and the mixed Asians such as Henry Golding and Sonoya Mizuno and yes, even our very own Nico Santos.

Each of them brings something different to the table and that equates to a sumptuous family meal. One that is filled with laughs, lots of delicious food and a bit of a drama at times; which is how most Asian family meals go.

My only problem with the story and this is also the same with the book (which I haven’t finished by the way, I’m still in the middle) is that how could Nick be so naive in not letting Rachel know, I mean I get that he likes Rachel because she knows him as a person and not because of his money or his family but if you are bringing your girlfriend into the Lion’s den, at least give her a headsup. I guess, his best friend Colin says it best: “You’re untouchable but Rachel isn’t”.

Don’t miss the movie redefining romantic comedy and representation as we know it. “Crazy Rich Asians” is a whole lot of crazy fun.


Ica Hontiveros-Cheng

 
Half of PCheng Photography. I write about music, events, movies, books and TV shows all on my spare time. My day job in the BPO industry pays the bills, while writing keeps the mind sharp.


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