If nothing else, “Crazy Rich Asians” is a whole lot of truth in advertising.
This romantic comedy-drama with an all-Asian cast carries the weight of a lot of good intentions to defy a lot of Hollywood myths.
The story centers on Rachel Chu (played by Constance Wu), a young professor in New York who has no idea that her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), is heir to one of the wealthiest families in the world. He invites her to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore and it isn’t until they are seated in ultra-posh first class on the plane she realizes that her beau might be rolling in it.
Things only get crazier after they land in Singapore, where Rachel quickly finds out, she’s about to attend the wedding of the century. Being on the arm of one of the most eligible bachelors in the world puts her under the scrutiny of the press, Nick’s family and every single woman in the country with designs on him.
A few allies materialize to help Rachel make sense of it all — the most entertaining of which are Rachel’s ride-or-die college buddy, Goh Peik Lin (play by Awkwafina), who might as well be an Asian Lady Gaga and steals pretty much every scene she’s in, and Oliver T’sien (Nico Santos), the lone gay character in the film, who is kept on the fringes of his family. Michelle Yeoh brilliantly exudes full venomous iciness as Eleanor Young, Nick’s mother, who has her own agenda for trying to keep him and Rachel apart.
Anyone who has ever seen date movies such as “Pretty Woman,” “The Princess Diaries,” “Coming to America” or “Fifty Shades of Grey” will pretty much predict the dramatic twists and turns here. But there is more than enough exotic visual flair and talent on the screen, as well as a welcome sense of humor and playfulness within the story. Like any movie trying to break new social ground, it walks a precarious line between trying to defy stereotypes and leaning into those stereotypes. For the most part, the strength of the performances and the cast outshine any concerns about the occasional one-dimensional portrayal of the film’s bad guys.
As a side note, any readers in the process of planning a wedding might want to wait until after their nuptials to watch this movie. The wedding scene will make pretty much anything else seem like a trailer-park barbecue by comparison.
You’ve been warned.