Crazy Rich Asians features an absolutely fantastic cast, clever writing, and enough style to overcome any rom-com clichés it indulges in.
Director: Jon M. Chu
Summary: This contemporary romantic comedy, based on a global bestseller, follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family.
The romantic comedy genre might have mass appeal, but it’s very difficult to do anything particularly interesting with it. The people who are going to see these movies like the formula, so why deviate from it? But the writers of Crazy Rich Asians wanted to change it up, and they decided that the best way to do so was to change the setting and cast a bunch of extremely talented actors and actresses. Those two things take this movie and elevate into something really special. There is a sincerity that flows through this entire project, and it really helps draw you into the story.
When you’re dealing with crazy rich people, that means some crazy outfits — and the costume designer, Mary E. Vogt, did such a good job. The elaborate outfits combined with the high-class mansions in which the movie takes place make for a very fun aesthetic. However, all of the pretty things in the world won’t do much if you don’t have a great cast behind you — and Crazy Rich Asians just so happens to have that in spades.
The legendary Michelle Yeoh brings in a fabulous performance as the Youngs’ matriarch, Eleanor. She manages to walk that line where you know the way she judges her son’s girlfriend is wrong, but you can also understand that she wants to protect her family. Constance Wu as Rachel continues to be a light in the dark. She has such amazing screen presence and fantastic comedic timing. She plays the “fish out of water” scenario with such sincerity that you really believe she’s overwhelmed and stumbling because of it. Gemma Chan also stuns as Nick’s cousin and one of the only allies that Rachel has. She, much like Wu, lights up a room and commands scenes with such grace and poise you’d think she was born to play a queen. Awkwafina comes out with her second scene-stealing performance this summer (the first being in Ocean’s 8) as Rachel’s friend and college roommate Peik.
While the ladies in this movie are fabulous, the men are just as good. Henry Golding as Nick is absolute leading man material — studios should be kicking down his door to cast him in more movies. Nico Santos, who plays Oliver (another one of Rachel’s few allies), has fantastic comedic timing.
The movie clocks in at two hours even, but the pacing is steady throughout the entire production. There weren’t really moments that dragged, and there weren’t too many moments that felt rushed either. The jokes land, the drama feels real, and the sad moments hit you like a punch in the gut.
A lot of pressure is being put on this movie to do well because it’s the first western-produced movie with an all-Asian cast to get a wide release in 25 years. But if there was pressure on anyone, director Jon M. Chu kept it off the set.
Crazy Rich Asians takes the clichés of the romantic comedy and molds them into something recognizable but unique. The strong performances, fantastic writing, and stunning costumes means this is a movie no one should miss, even if this isn’t usually a genre you like.
This is an important movie that doesn’t act like it’s important. It carries the weight of massive expectations effortlessly because it knows it’s good. Now it just needs to grab the audience and it’s golden.
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