Movie Review: “Crazy Rich Asians”
Crazy Rich Asians
Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is the daughter of a single mother who immigrated to America (from China) while pregnant with Rachel. Nick Young (Henry Golding) comes from an extremely wealthy family that is treated as royalty in Singapore. The two met in America and have been seeing each other for awhile, and now Nick’s best friend is getting married (in Singapore), so he decides to take Rachel home to meet his family. Unfortunately, the meeting does not go as well as Nick would have hoped.
Nick has a very large family, most of which are very welcoming towards Rachel, but Nick’s mother is not so approving of their relationship. On the surface, Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) is civil towards Rachel, but she sees Rachel as the reason her son did not move back to China after college. She does not think Rachel is worthy of her son, so she is not going to make Rachel’s life easy. Rachel loves Nick, and he loves her, but if there is any hope for their relationship, Rachel must find a way to gain the respect of those that would object to her.
The Pros & Cons
Constance Wu (+10pts)
Awkwafina & The Supporting Cast (+8pts)
China & The Visuals (+5pts)
The Beginning (-3pts)
Pro: Constance Wu (+10pts)
Overall, this is a good movie, but Constance Wu is the definitive star. She is my favorite part of Fresh Off the Boat so I was excited to see how she would be while playing this very different character. If this movie was to work, the lead actress needed to be solid, and Constance Wu did a fantastic job. She is funny when she needs to be and has great chemistry with all of her supporting cast. This made the character likeable while making her relationships believable.
Constance Wu gives a great, very relatable performance that audiences will connect with. Rachel was a very well written character, and it is safe to say that she goes through a lot. The character has a massive emotional journey that Constance Wu executed perfectly by hitting all the necessary drama without ever over-doing it. Constance Wu made this character felt real, which was a very important thing for a movie as eccentric as this one.
Con: Astrid (-4pts)
This movie was based on a novel and, usually when that is the case, the filmmakers struggle to bring certain elements of the story to the screen. I get the impression that this is what went wrong with this character. I liked the character and Gemma Chan did a good job in this dramatic role, but the character’s entire storyline felt severely irrelevant. The character could have been removed from the movie altogether, and the result would be a more refined movie.
This is a side character who’s story is both very predictable, and unnecessary. Audiences will know exactly where this it is going and it never ties in with the main character’s story, which made it feel like a waste of time. From a film standpoint, I honestly do not know what point this storyline served. This leads me to believe that the character is much more relevant in the book, but the filmmakers did not have the screentime to make it happen on screen. Unfortunately they threw this character in the story in the laziest way possible. They did not try to make the character relevant nor did they try to make the storyline interesting. Through no fault of Gemma Chan, the character’s storyline was very predictable, very irrelevant and very uninteresting.
Pro: Awkwafina & The Supporting Cast (+8pts)
After seeing the trailers, I was worried that Awkafina would be too much for this movie. Her character is very over exaggerated, but she was a lot of fun. Awkwafina did a great job at giving the audience the right type of comedy for this movie. For the most part, the movie lays the drama and emotion on pretty thick. Awkwafina provides an unfiltered style of comedy that ends up being a pretty good complement for the rest of the movie. The combination between the tones works pretty well, so much so that Awkwafina will be a fan favorite of this movie.
The rest of the cast is filled with actors who do a great job (dramatically) in their supporting roles. I could list which ones worked, but I would go as far as to say there was not a weak link in this movie. The standouts would have been Henry Golding and Michelle Yeoh but that is simply because their characters had the most significant supporting roles. Each character served a different purpose and, while some were more relevant than others, the actors in the roles did a great job. This movie had a predictable plot, but the cast gave compelling performances that will have audiences invested in the story anyway.
Con: Predictable (-6pts)
Have you ever seen Monster-in-Law starring Jennifer Lopez? If you have, then you have seen the plot for this movie before. To make things worse, that movie was already predictable. A man and a woman are in a serious relationship when the woman is introduced to the man’s wealthy family. The mother of the man thinks her son is settling for a girl that is unworthy due to her social status (not wealthy). I am not going to tell you how that plot plays out, but I think most movie-goers will know how that story ends, even without having seen either movie.
This movie does have the added layer of the man being from China while the woman is Chinese, but was born and raised in America. The mother, does not see Rachel as an “authentic” Chinese girl, so there is more than just the lack of wealth that is preventing the mother from approving of Rachel. The movie should have focused on those issues, but it did not. The movis touches on these issues, but never gives the audience proper time to sit with them. The drama focuses on Rachel seeking Eleanor’s approval, but never really dives deep into why she does not like Rachel. Instead, like Monster-in-Law, this movie gives us the plot of a generic romantic comedy and, as a result, audiences will know how the movie will play out before the ending of the first act.
Pro: China & The Visuals (+5pts)
We get to explore some visually stunning places in this movie. The movie has some stunning beaches, interesting architecture, beautiful mansions, and a ton of other visually satisfying locations. The movie never spends too much time dwelling on any of this. The focus is definitely on the characters and the story, but everything is set to a stunning environment. The wedding was where the filmmakers were able to show off what they were able to do, visually, in this movie. This was a beautiful scene in the middle of a visually stunning movie. China has a ton of amazing places to see, and Crazy Rich Asians gives audiences a small sample of that.
Con: The Beginning (-3pts)
Crazy Rich Asians opens with a scene that will connect with a lot of people. Eleanor, Nick, Astrid, and their aunt are in a rainy London late in the evening. They get to their hotel, where they have a reservation, but the staff denies them because of their ethnicity. I am not going to get into how this scene plays out, but everyone has experienced some form of discrimination, so most will be able to connect with this scene on some level.
It is an effective scene but never has any pay off. The scene takes place decades before the rest of this movie, and there is never a connection made to it. This made the scene feel very irrelevant, which as a shame given how effective the scene was. It could have been incredibly impactful if the filmmakers had simply found a way to connect it with the story’s climax.
Grade: B+ (85pts)
Crazy Rich Asians had an extremely predictable plot (especially if you have seen Monster-in-Law). You will know exactly where the story is going, but the actors will be enough to keep the audience engaged. Awkwafina provides a style of comedy that the movie definitely needed and the rest of the supporting cast provides the drama that will engage the audience and keep the plot moving. Unfortunately, one of the side characters (Astrid) seemed to fall victim to poor translation between the book and the movie. The character may have been important in the book (I honestly do not know if that is true), but the filmmakers failed to make the character feel relevant in the movie.
Constance Wu was this movie’s biggest strength. The plot is generic but Constance Wu makes the main character relatable and believable. She is able to deliver the drama and comedy naturally, while making the audience really buy into Rachel’s relationship with Nick. It is not an original story but the cast makes it work which, mixed with the awesome visuals, makes for a pretty entertaining movie.