Based on the novel of the same name, Crazy Rich Asians has some crazy expectations to meet and you’d be forgiven for writing it off as a diversity quota flick. Here’s why you shouldn’t.
I was so excited to hear about the release of Crazy Rich Asians, finally I would be able to watch my favourite Netflix sub genre - Korean Romcoms - on the big screen and give myself a night off from the subtitles. Some might be thinking that this film was going to be full of ‘smack you in the face’ wokeness and weighted down by the pressure to perform well internationally due to its entire Asian cast. In reality Crazy Rich Asians is like all good romcoms… good! The romance is front and centre, the comedy is paced well, with with a delightful wink to the audience when needed, and the stereotypes are kept to a bare minimum even then only being used to subvert your expectations. Oh I do love a bit of subversion.
In fact most of the familiarity in Crazy Rich Asians come from the genre rather than the culture. We have the wide eyed ingénue Rachel - Constance Wu - misled by her loving boyfriend Nick - Henry Golding - in to thinking that he is just a “normal” bloke. He, in turn, is the ‘super asian-famous’ prodigal son who wants to escape the pressures of a demanding family and high profile existence just to find his americanised bliss much to the dismay of his self martyred mother - the wonderful Michelle Yeoh - who has spent her life holding the stuff upper lip, sacrificing herself for her family, but turns out to relate a lot more to our lead, Rachel, than she would like. All so familiar so far. All enjoyable.
Then we have the comic relief best friend and her family- performed brilliantly by Awkwafina and Ken Jeong - both famous for their scene stealing roles in Oceans 8, Community and the Hangover respectively, and who the audience around me quietly cheered as they came on screen. They serve the role of Rachel’s down to earth but still super rich guides who just happen to have all the knowledge of this crazy rich world Rachel finds herself in to guide her and provide with excellent wardrobe montage scene to subvert everyone’s expectations. Trust me, you will love “Asian Ellen” and her clan.
Everything Crazy Rich Asians does with its relationships is relatable. The set up is familiar enough, so that when you are immersed in this world of ridiculously wealthy millennials, who think nothing of dropping over a million pounds on a pair of vintage earrings or renting out shipping containers to throw a party, you feel absolutely at home. There are laugh out loud moments and a fair few subtler jokes that you could miss if you aren’t already a fan of the many Korean comedies available of Netflix; but along with these jokes, the Asian covers of familiar western songs, and the obvious moments where director Jon Chu has just let Ken Jeong riff to camera to see how brilliant he could be, the whole film is thoroughly enjoyable.
Yes there are tears, yes there are laughs, yes there is a happy ending and yes this is a movie steeped in the shadow of Hollywood’s lack of diversity but aside from all of that it rises up to be just great fun and 99% of those people enjoying it won’t even care about legacy, they’ll just want a matte pink lambo and wish they knew a Nick too!
Crazy Rich Asians is at cinemas from Friday 14th September nation wide.
Thankyou to Warner Brothers and Moviehouse cinemas for hosting us.