“Crazy Rich Asians” is a romantic comedy with an all-Asian cast, including Awkwafina, Ken Jeong and Michelle Yeoh. And about 95% of the time, the characters speak English; either because they were born in America or the U.K., or associated with American businessmen. We’ll get to that part in a second, but the movie is actually kind of fun in the ways it treats cultural habits without going overboard and its “Cinderella” type story.
Based on the best selling novel by Kevin Kwan, we meet Rachel Chu (Constance Wu from TV’s “Fresh Off the Boat), an Economics Professor at NYU, who is surprised to know that her boyfriend Nick (Harry Goulding from the upcoming “A Simple Favor”) comes from a wealthy family. In fact, his family are the richest developers in the world.
They’re off to Singapore for the wedding of Nick’s best friend Colin (Chris Pang from “I, Frankenstein”), and he’s the best man. Nick is excited for his family, including his mother (Yeoh), to meet Rachel, but they’re not too thrilled to see her, because they judge her as a poor girl from America, who never went to Oxford or Cambridge like they did. One person who grows to like her is Nick’s cousin Astrid (Gemma Chan from TV’s “Humans”), who finds out that her husband (Pierre Png) is having an affair.
Rachel has a friend up in Singapore, Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina), who, along with her rich family (featuring Jeong as her father), is also shocked she’s dating the son of the wealthiest developers. She provides the best laughs of the film with her dialogue, fashion, and flexibility, especially when she’s unexpectedly invited for a family party.
“Crazy Rich Asians,” directed by Jon M. Chu, is a little long and little corny at times with how Nick’s family learns about his girlfriend, and how the titles are campy in how they tell the audience where each scene takes place. Just because the parties here are colorful and fascinating, we don’t really need to give it more pizazz.
But on the other hand, the movie has a sweet and funny spot inside. It gives its “Cinderella” story a more sentimental feel, and we’re never irritated by the characters who judge the main girl. Constance Wu is cute and charming as Rachel, not just for her looks, but for her brains and vulnerability. Awakafina, again, is hilarious. And Yeoh has a feminine Jack Byrnes quality in her without giving too much facial expressions, and how she keeps her feelings confirmed.
“Crazy Rich Asians” loves its culture and people, and we respect it for them. It’s not mean-spirited or humiliating, and that’s what makes the movie so charming.
Opens Everywhere Next Wed