Word of Mouth: Crazy Rich Asians
There comes a moment in the beginning of every movie when you know down in your core whether or not the movie is going to be bad or good. The moment where you roll your eyes and mumble "WTF am I about to watch" or you lean back and get comfy.
Before I go into this moment in the film, I should set the scene. In Crazy Rich Asians, middle class Rachel Chu accompanies her boyfriend, Nick Young, home to Singapore to attend his best friend's wedding. She's in for a big surprise when she learns that Nick comes the richest family in Singapore. Instead of settling down for a relaxing vacation, Rachel struggles to keep up with the obnoxious standards of The Youngs' wealthy, social circle.
This good or bad moment comes early on when Radio One Asia, a character notorious for her gossip amongst the wealthy asian crowd, spots Rachel and Nick in a NY coffee shop and starts a massive gossip chain spanning the globe. Everyone wants to know who this Rachel girl is and why Nick is with her? Director Jon M. Chu filmed the gossip montage in a way that was fast paced, sneaky, smooth, sexy and whimsical. It was like Gossip Girl meets Ocean's 11. That was the exact moment I knew I was about to watch a really good movie. So I leaned back and put my feet up on the empty chair in front of me because I knew I was in for a ride.
Since it's a romantic comedy, I should probably talk about the romance or the comedy. But the movie's called Crazy Rich Asians, so let's start with the rich. The massive homes, the fashion and the jewels are a character all on its own. They take up as much as airtime as any of the speaking roles. A jeweler in the film even bragged about getting the price of diamond earrings down to 1.4 million dollars. For earrings! While we don't know exactly how much money The Young Family has, the extravagance in this film shows just how rich Nick is and just how much Rachel doesn't fit in.
The truth is that Rachel isn't the only outsider in this film. The standards to swim in this sea of the super wealthy are so high that even the rich struggle to fit in. Nick pretends he isn't a billionaire to fit in with the 99%. His cousin, Astrid, hides her splurges on jewels to avoid offending her less rich, but still rich husband. And Rachel's best friend, Peik Lin......No, Peik Lin's a real one. She has money and she ain't apologizing for it. If you ever have a partner that keeps you in the dark about their family, I hope you have a Peik Lin to help you as much as she helped Rachel.
If you can't tell by now, Crazy Rich Asians, has many characters and a couple storylines to follow. However, it never falls into the rom com slump. Bad romantic comedies are bad because of two reasons: 1) They're not very funny and 2) The pace is so sssslllllllllooooooowwwww . Crazy Rich Asians doesn't fall into these traps. Talented actors like Akwafina and Ken Jeong keep the laughs flowing. And Jon M. Chu has directed action and heist films in the past. So even though this movie is a rom-com, he directs it with the pace of a quirky, heist film. That means you won't be falling asleep in the theatre, unless you are a narcoleptic. Then sleep on, friend!
You can find many reasons online as to why you should see this movie. It's funny, lovable, glitzy, and highlights some facets of asian culture that are never explored in American media. But no one is talking about the wedding. Why is no one talking about the wedding!?! Colin and Araminta's showstopper, river flowing wedding! It's the only reason Rachel even went to Singapore. Am I the only one that shed a tear when she walked down the aisle and the music stopped? Araminta isn't even one of my favorite characters and I still cried. I now have to go on pinterest and scrap my entire wedding planning folder for my nonexistent wedding to my nonexistent groom.
Ok, let's get serious for a second. I almost typed : "I rarely see movies with this many Asian characters in them." But that's not true. I've never seen an American movie with an all Asian cast. Like ever. I know Joy Luck Club came out 25 years ago, but I haven't seen it yet (it's on my list). This movie doesn't explore all asian experiences, but I don't think it was supposed to. It's called Crazy Rich Asians. It does however give a view into a culture that many of us aren't exposed to enough. Scenes like Nick's family making dumplings and Rachel playing Mahjong with Eleanor show that this movie isn't trying to hide its Asian culture. It basks in it's beauty.
The dresses, fancy homes and wedding are all fun. But that's not the heart of the film. Normally, the heart of a rom com is between the two love birds. But I think the heart of the film is the clash between Rachel and Eleanor, Nick's mom. They say when you marry someone, you marry their family. I don't know if it's true because we've already established my singleness, but let's go with it. If Rachel stays with Nick, she has to accept his family, including Eleanor. But how do you accept a family that thinks you're a gold digger and wants to get rid of you? How do you get them to come around? Is it even possible?
Watch Crazy Rich Asians if you want to find out. To wrap up this post, I'll leave you with my favorite quote from the movie. Some of the most profound words Peik Lin has ever said.
"Bok Bok, B*tch"