Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an economics lecturer at NYU, and her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), are in love and couldn’t be happier. When faced with the prospect of attending Nick’s best friend’s wedding, and meeting Nick’s family for the first time, in Singapore, she is excited but nervous. She becomes more anxious still upon discovering that his family is insanely wealthy, plus his mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), takes an immediate disliking to her. However, Rachel pushes on, determined to win over Nick’s family.
Welcome to an insanely rich world you’ll never belong to. It is stunning to look at, beautiful, shiny and glittery, but accept that this is fantasy or you’ll spend the movie miserable.
It’s easy to see why ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ has been doing so well in the US box office. It’s fun, light-hearted, cute, and very funny. It’s about love, family, and triumph over adversity – the opening scene is fabulously assertive while later, our protagonist has to deal with some horrific nastiness from a jealous community of singletons. Like most rom coms, it is cheesy and predictable, all working out in the end, but that’s what we watch these kinds of movies for.
As the primary couple, Constance Wu and Henry Golding are very sweet. Gemma Chan, best-known for ‘Humans’ and also due to play Minn-Erva in ‘Captain Marvel’, is lovely and distractingly beautiful. Awkwafina’s (‘Ocean’s 8’) character Peik Lin Goh offers perspective to Rachel and hilarity to the narrative. The whole Goh family (‘The Hangover’s Ken Jeong plays patriarch Wye Mun Goh) are a riot and an onslaught of comedy whenever they burst onto the screen. There’s no nuance to the characters or subtlety in the performances, but again, that’s not what we came for.
‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is to romantic comedies what ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ has been to musicals this year. Both are totally over-the-top and not necessarily ‘great films’, critically speaking. One rather evaluates them on what they offer their audiences, which is laughs, fun, enjoyment, entertainment. They are here not to offer a scathing, analytical or realistic piece of filmmaking. Instead their function is to be enjoyed in a way that doesn’t require overthinking, offering that special thing that many movies have over the years – escapism.