REVIEW: Crazy Rich Asians

Posted by Matthew Thornton on Sunday, February 10, 2019

Director: Jon M. Chu
Writers: Peter Chiarelli (screenplay by), Adele Lim (screenplay by), Kevin Kwan (based on the novel “Crazy Rich Asians” by)
Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh
Runtime: 120 mins
MPAA Rating: PG-13

      Did you ever wish for a hot, rich Asian guy to whisk you away to meet his wealthy, high-society family back in the homeland? While that has never been a personal dream of mine, I got to experience it anyways.

      This movie is a simple enough love story between an American-born Chinese college economics professor Rachel (Constance Yu) and her charming Singaporean boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) who quickly reveals he is filthy rich. Henry’s best friend is getting married back in Singapore, and Nick decides to bring Rachel as his plus one. From there, the story hits every predictable beat possible and is thoroughly uninteresting. Family matriarch dislikes girl because of her being born in America and not wealthy. All the rich girls are jealous that they do not have a shot with Hearthrob Henry. Rachel struggles with believing she is good enough for the family. I’ll let you predict the rest of the plot from this information. I simply did not care about anything that happened in this movie.

      The visual presentation is filled with vibrant colors and quality production design. The extravagance of the Far East elite is captured competently. You can clearly tell that this film had a high budget…and those are about the only positive comments I will make about this movie. Everything in this film is overbearing from the editing to the soundtrack to the moral lessons (I get it…racism and social class discrimination are bad…I really do!). The two leads have believable chemistry, but everything else about their performances feels so hollow and fake. The central conflict is contrived, predictable, and easily resolved. The movie tries various tricks to manipulate the audience into having emotions that it in no way earns. There are way too many side characters with random degrees of development. For example, there is a completely pointless subplot with one of the sisters and her husband who is having affair, and it goes absolutely nowhere. Additionally, you get all sorts of over-the-top acting from supporting characters. The comedy is obnoxious and not funny. Ken Jeong and Awkwafina are excessively annoying. Overall, the direction is uninspired (not a surprise from Jon Chu, whose resume includes classics such as Step Up 2: the Streets and GI Joe: Retaliation) combined with poor writing. For example, there is a pivotal scene towards the end where a number of important plot developments occur. In the very next scene, one character awkwardly recounts everything that happened in the previous scene to another character, just in case you missed what happened two minutes prior. Finally, I would like to highlight the obsessive amount of shots in this movie involving food: lavish meals being cooked, hors d’oeuvres being served, characters digging into scrumptious dishes, etc. I was pretty far removed from my most recent meal when seeing this movie, and I was afflicted with intense hunger pains by the end.

      As an exercise in artistically demonstrating excessive opulence, this film is a resounding success. As far as storytelling goes, it is neither “crazy” nor “rich” (but there are Asians). I am completely aware that I am not the target audience for romantic comedies such as this, but, even still, it does absolutely nothing to draw me into caring about the narrative. There are a number of quality films coming out of Asian countries every year but general American audiences are never going to go out of their way to see a film with subtitles. I think this movie exists to make people feel as though they have diverse taste despite this being just a giant exercise in Hollywood excess; it also seems to function as a weird form of economic escapism. I personally do not see the appeal. Avoid this one if you are hungry and/or poor.


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