I’ve never been to Singapore. Plus, I’ve never known royalty or attended a Royal Wedding, but I identify with the main character Rachel Chu (Constance Wu from FRESH OFF THE BOAT) because I was born in the Philippines and grew up in America. When I have returned to the Philippines, I feel like a fish out of water. She’s a fish out of water for she is a New Yorker whisked to the exotic Singapore by her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding from A SIMPLE FAVOR). To her surprise, Nick isn’t just rich, but CRAZY RICH. In fact, his family is one of the wealthiest families in Singapore.
Asian Ladies of Comedy
Nick Young assumes that his mother Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh from CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON) will be proud of him because he’s marrying a Chinese girl. But in his mother only sees her as an independent American rather than an Asian with the understanding of the Asian culture. As every Asian mother knows, no girl is good enough for her son especially if the mom is crazy rich and lives in the socialite stratosphere. While this is a great concept with an original setting and cast, I was hoping for more comedic situations.
The movie could have been the conspiring mother-in-law, such as MONSTER-IN-LAW, because most of the cast have experience with comedy. It would also break with the stereotype that Asians are only serious all of the time. An example that demonstrates Asians being less than serious the video from Korean Artist PSY for his song: “Gangham Style”
Another comedy classic they could have modeled after was MEET THE PARENTS where Rachel could desperately try to impress Nick’s parents like Greg Focker. There were so many missed comedic opportunities. There could be so much more than Rachel attempting to drink the water for washing one’s hands at the front door of CRAZY RICH ASIAN movie. This truly was just the iceberg of what could have easily led Rachel’s character down a rabbit hole of disasters like Greg Focker talking about milking cats. He was then forced to make up more shit to back up this outlandish claim until he had to finally admit his fear of being rejected.
‘Male Abs’ Are Everywhere
This let me know that I was in a chick flick. It seemed that the buff male characters constantly took off their shirts to show us their abs. I wanted to go to the gym more and put down the popcorn. But the movie also appeals to guys with the outrageous bachelor party on a boat. As original as the elaborate set piece was, it fit more with the stereotype of Chinese kids having no concept of money and showing off like peacocks. Nick and his best friend see themselves as better than this and sneak off immediately when this could have easily been a variation on the HANGOVER franchise just for fun.
The best comedic parts were from the Asian sidekicks such as her friend Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina from OCEAN’S 8). They really should have given Peik more scenes for she dominates her scenes. One of her funniest moments is when Peik rolls up as an uninvited guest to a cocktail party and she pops open her trunk…That always gets the best laugh. It’s just that I prefer Peik more in her natural comedic conversations with Rachel. An example is Peik talking with Rachel at the café. Another one is at the dinner where Rachel meets the rest of Peik’s outrageous family like her father Wye Muh Gun (Ken Jeong from HANGOVER). Like father and daughter, they kill it in comedy. I really was hoping to have seen more of them together.
Is it Asian Enough?
You can tell it’s authentically Asian by everything centered around food and family. I liked the tradition of handing down of making dumplings by hand. Another time is when they visit the market and eat family style with everyone sharing from the same plates rather than individual orders. The way they remain skinny eating like that is beyond me. I’m doing a variation on the low carb diet and still don’t have those abs. I don’t even eat rice much less brown rice for that matter. In fact, I chastised my now wife for ordering brown rice on one of my first dates in a Thai Food restaurant. As she is a non-Asian, I felt compelled to explain that no respectable Asian man eats brown rice. This was back before my low carb days.
CRAZY RICH ASIANS is a movie where most of the cast is made of up Asians. It’s been over 25 years since an American movie featuring this kind of cast was made by a major studio. The last movie like this was the JOY LUCK CLUB. As luck would have it, Lisa Lu is in both movies. She plays Nick’s grandmother in CRAZY RICH ASIANS. Although, one could argue that NAMESAKE by Fox Searchlight could be counted as an Asian film since India is also considered part of Asia. MOANA could even be considered Asian since it features several Pacific Islander voice actors. However, I’m half joking since I fall somewhere between Asian, Pacific Islander, American and even Spanish since I’m Filipino. In the end, every one of every race will have fun at this romantic comedy as well as get the chance to see the how the other half lives in the exotic island of the metropolitan Singapore.