Movie review by Andrea Karen Hammer
Crazy Rich Asians, based on the bestselling novel by Kevin Kwan (21013), is a groundbreaking film. As the first movie with an all-Asian cast, the Singapore- and Malaysia-based production immerses viewers in upholding honored traditions in the face of changing times.
One of the stand-out scenes at the beginning of this romantic comedy shows the speed of texting news across the world. A smartphone photo of Nick Young’s (Henry Golding‘s) girlfriend Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) boomerangs quickly to friends, family and foes, along with balloons of freely expressed commentary.
Navigating the Terrain of Family Expectations and Traditions
As Nick and Rachel, Henry Golding and Rachel Chu skillfully navigate the tricky terrain of family’s expectations while maintaining their sense of New York independence and next-generation vision. Their deep connection and romance guide them over the bumps, along with a colorful and sometimes flamboyant cast of characters.
One favorite was Rachel’s steadfast friend, Peik Lin Goh, who Awkwafina plays with spirited energy. Wearing a collection of wildly mismatched outfits reflecting her unique style, this character always offers straight-up advice, which bolsters Rachel and helps her confront non-stop intimidation.
As Nick’s mother (Eleanor Young), Michelle Yeoh corners the market on trying to psyche out and derail Rachel from her impending life with her son. With a regal carriage, an all-knowing attitude and the confidence of wealth, Eleanor has the power to slice and dice this young woman. In one particularly alarming scene, she literally backs Rachel down a set of stairs–while cupping her face and telling her that she will never be enough for her son.
Maintaining Integrity Despite Non-Stop Sabotage and Intimidation
After other confrontations including several when Rachel stands up to those trying to sabotage her, viewers cheer her ability to maintain her integrity–even if that requires making the ultimate sacrifice. A particularly winning scene involves Rachel’s head-to-head game play with Eleanor and her willingness to walk away with her head held high.
Although some extended party scenes are overly long and over the top, Crazy Rich Asians is a lively and entertaining romantic comedy, exploring ways to balance today’s interests with family traditions.