"Crazy Rich Asians" is one of the top grossing domestic movies in 2018 and a true underdog success in terms of its box office numbers and widespread popularity. But here's the thing for me, I totally didn't get it. Now, this is sometimes common when something is so hyped up that by the time you tune into the hype it doesn't satisfy. But for me, I promise you I came into this film so open minded. I really try to give movies the opportunity they deserve to impress, awe, and inspire - to make you feel what the filmmakers were sometimes aiming for and sometimes are happy accidents created from great acting, filming, editing, music, etc. "Crazy Rich Asians" deserves a standing ovation for how it was marketed. I watched the trailer, I heard the word of mouth, and I watched/read articles describing the heartfelt hilarity that this film brought to the 2018 film lineup. I finished this movie and I was shocked and awed...by how overly basic and not funny it was. But let's get into the specifics.
Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians
I missed the joke.
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
DVD or Streaming >27in
The acting feels so much like an Asian soap opera. This is partly to blame for the script and directing, but also because the movie was mis-categorized for me as a comedy when it was a total drama/romance. The characters don't jive - the scenes are so spotty in how they are put together. The movie just starts without any context or reason for us to root for anyone. I can tell we're supposed to be laughing from the start, but it doesn't work for me.
Love is worth more than money is essentially the message, I think. Ironically, they spent a fortune in order to show you this. The amount of bling is certainly "cool", but it only served as a band-aid to a poor story. The absentee father is literally absent the whole film. An affair on the grounds of someone being more popular is confusing and never honestly dealt with. The soon-to-be mother-in-law's evil nature made it seriously feel more like a horror film at times. The "friends" of "Nick Young's" past are truly evil in their actions toward "Rachel Chu".
Most of the music is Singapore-based or Mandarin-influenced pop. I thought this was a good and obvious touch.
I could write a novel about "Crazy Rich Asians" Story. Clearly I'm in the minority of opinion based on the overall positive reviews this film has received. What I thought this film could've/would've been based on its title and what it is could not be more polar opposites. I really thought the film would be a stereotype of wealth, Asians, Singapore, and romance and that I'd be watching a movie where I might feel bad laughing a few times because of some borderline racist jokes/stereotypes. This happened one time. The beginning of the film contains a scene where seemingly every one in Singapore finds out "Nick Young" has invited his girlfriend to Singapore faster than she realizes she's going to Singapore with him. From there, the film is very serious - in fact, dark, super weird vibe. I've asked a few people who watched this film, "what was a funny scene"? The consistent thing I heard was Awkwafina's character, "Peik Lin Goh". She does offer some much needed comedic-relief and interestingly plays the "mentor" character to "Rachel Chu". However, her character is such a minor aspect to the Story. Ken Jeong's character "Wye Mun Goh" sadly plays what's supposed to be a really funny pedifile. Doesn't work. The Story is mostly hodge-podge (like this review). The film really doesn't know what it wants to say - it's edited in such a way that it feels like just one random scene stacked onto another. I'll say more in the Kernel Factor section...
The bling is crazy. They got a few sick locations. But they forgot to bring the story along. In the end, they spend so much time trying to impress you with Singapore's wealth that it becomes a patch for the holes that existed throughout the film.
"Crazy Rich Asians" commits a major no-no for me. It explicitly breaks the rules of the world it created. "Rachel Chu" our lead (played by Constance Wu) has been dating "Nick Young" (played by Henry Golding) for a year. The film shows that essentially every Asian on the planet knows who "Nick Young" really is, except for "Rachel" who is a Ph.D. professor in game theory, but doesn't know how to use the internet to look up who her boyfriend is (they've been dating for a year!). The audacity this movie has to think we (as the audience) is dumb enough to believe that "Rachel" doesn't realize "Nick" is part of the most famous family in the Far East is something that is honestly shocking and demeaning to me. And this film tries to pull this "fast one" on us several times: absentee father, unacknowledged affair, some Singapore game that changes her mother-in-law's mind, and her mother's past which is just neatly packaged up. Too many things were attempted and edited together haphazardly. It's one of the first films I've watched where I honestly feel in 20 years people both won't get it and will say "that's what the world was like in 2018" - it's such a cultural marker for our day. And yet, here I am watching this cultural marker and I honestly don't get why people liked this film: if it's because a majority of Asians were cast in a movie, I wholeheartedly agree a greater diversity of casting is needed in Hollywood, but if it's because the movie is actually good, I still don't get it.