There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Crazy Rich Asians
Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is the daughter of a single mother who uprooted her life in China to become an immigrant in America while she was 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 toward Rachel, but Nick’s mother is not so approving of their relationship. On the surface, Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) is civil toward 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 in Nick's family that would object to their relationship.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Constance Wu (+10pts)
Awkwafina & The Supporting Cast (+8pts)
China & The Visuals (+5pts)
The Beginning (-3pts)
Pro: Constance Wu (+10pts)
Overall, I thought this was a good movie, and Constance Wu was the definitive star. She is my favorite part of Fresh Off the Boat, so I was excited to see how she would play this very different character. If this movie was to work, the lead actress needed to be solid, and I thought Constance Wu did a fantastic job. She was funny when she needed to be, and she had great chemistry with all of her supporting cast. This made the character likeable while making her relationships believable.
Constance Wu gave 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 went through a lot throughout the course of this story. She had a challenging emotional journey and I thought Constance Wu did an excellent job of portraying her character's frustration toward Nick's mother, her character's love for Nick, her character's inner struggle, and her character's growth through it all. Constance Wu made this character feel real and relatable, and she was the main factor in my interest in this story.
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 got the impression that this was what went wrong with this character. I liked the character and Gemma Chan did a fine job in the role, but the character’s entire storyline felt severely irrelevant. The character could have been removed from the movie altogether, and it would have had almost no impact on the story.
This was a side character whose story was both very predictable, and unnecessary. Audiences will know exactly where the filmmakers were going to take her story, and it never tied in with the main character’s story, which made it feel like a waste of time. I am assuming the character was much more relevant in the book, but the filmmakers did not have the screentime to integrate the character properly in the movie. They just sort of threw this character in the here, and the character ended up feeling out-of-place. The character's storyline was predictable and irrelevant, and through no fault of Gemma Chan's, it made the character one of this movie's weaknesses.
Pro: Awkwafina & The Supporting Cast (+8pts)
After seeing the trailers, I was worried that Awkafina would be too much for this movie. Her character seemed like an exaggerated comedic relief, but she ended up being a lot of fun. Awkwafina delivered the right type of comedy for this movie. For the most part, the movie was pretty focused on drama and emotion, and Awkwafina provided an unfiltered style of comedy that was a pretty good complement for the tone of the rest of the movie. The drama and the emotion worked well, but Awkafina's ability to break it up a bit was important in making sure the audience did not get tired of all the drama.
The rest of the cast was filled with actors who do a great job with their dramatic, supporting roles. I could list which ones worked, but I would go as far as to say there was really not a weak link in this movie. The standouts would have been Henry Golding and Michelle Yeoh, but that was simply because their characters had the most significant supporting roles. Each character served a different purpose, for this story, and while some were more relevant than others, the actors in each of the roles delivered what they needed to. This movie had a predictable plot, but the cast gave strong, 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 were in a serious relationship when the woman was introduced to the man’s wealthy family. The mother of the man thought her son was settling for a girl that was unworthy due to her not coming from wealth. Both movies had the same plot, and am not going to tell you how that plot played out, but most movie-goers will know how this story ends, even without having seen either movie.
This movie did have the added layer of the man being from China, while the woman was a Chinese-American. The mother, did not see Rachel as an “authentic” Chinese girl, so there was more than just the lack of wealth that was preventing the mother from approving of Rachel. The drama focuses on Rachel seeking Eleanor’s approval, but it was all surface level drama. The filmmakers established Eleanor's disapproval, but they never really dove into why she did not like Rachel in the first place. Then the whole plot played out, and it ended up going exactly as I thought it would, which made it kind of boring.
Pro: China & The Visuals (+5pts)
We got to explore some visually stunning places in this movie. The movie was set on some stunning beaches, in some interesting architecture, in beautiful mansions, and a ton of other visually satisfying locations. The movie never spent too much time dwelling in any one location, and the focus was always on the characters, but going from one stunning set to another made this movie visually satisfying. The wedding was where the filmmakers were able to show off their visual style the most, and that style really popped off the screen. Like any country, China has a ton of amazing places to see, and the filmmakers of Crazy Rich Asians gave audiences a small taste of that.
Con: The Beginning (-3pts)
Crazy Rich Asians opened with a scene that will connect with a lot of people. Eleanor, Nick, Astrid, and their aunt were in London on a rainy evening. They got to their hotel, where they had a reservation, but the staff denied them because of their ethnicity. I am not going to get into how this scene played out, but the cruel discrimination will have many in the audience immediately invested in this move.
It was an effective scene, but it never really had any pay off. The scene took place decades before the rest of this movie, and there was never a connection made to it later on in the movie. This made the scene feel very irrelevant, which was a shame given how effective the scene was. It could have been incredibly impactful if the filmmakers had simply found a way to take the story full circle in 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 provided a style of comedy that the movie definitely needed, and the rest of the supporting cast provided 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. I did not read the book, so maybe she was important to that story, but I thought the filmmakers did a poor job of making her feel relevant in the movie.
Constance Wu was this movie’s biggest strength. The plot was generic, but Constance Wu made the main character relatable and believable, which will help get audiences invested in her story nonetheless. She was able to deliver the drama and the comedy naturally, while making it easy for the audience to buy into her character’s relationship with Nick. It was not an original story, but the cast made it work, which mixed with the awesome visuals, made for a pretty entertaining movie.
Movie Whisperer from Moreton Bay, Queensland on August 28, 2018:
I saw the trailer for this at the cinema and think it looks quite ‘done before’ but still good enough to watch. I’ll wait for the VOD release though