FILM- Crazy Rich Asians

 Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater and film critic by night- bringing my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.

How about ‘Crazy Rich Asians’?

I saw this movie when it first came out but I was log jammed with reviews of 2 Broadway shows- so I couldn’t get to review this one until now. And I didn’t think it would make sense to review it now- but it has had such a strong showing at the box office that it’s still relevant. So here I am- reviewing ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ for you.

It has gained some fame as the first Hollywood movie with an almost all Asian cast since ‘The Joy Luck Club’ 25 years ago.

And, if you just read the snippets from the review quotes, you might think this is a laugh out loud hilarious comedy. Let me set you straight on that: it really isn’t. In truth, it’s a romantic “dramedy” that’s more fun than funny.

l to r: Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, Constance Wu; JUICEOnline, Screen Realm

Don’t get me wrong- this is a really good film and there are some really funny scenes. Also, it IS a lot of fun and I do recommend it. But I would rather you feel I told you the real deal on it than have you walk into the theater expecting one thing and getting another.

The story centers on the relationship between Rachel, played winningly by Constance Wu, and Nick, played with an abundance of charm and charisma by newcomer Henry Golding, in his big screen debut. They have been dating for a while and both are doing well at their respective jobs in New York. Nick decides to ask Rachel to be his date for a wedding back at his family’s home in Singapore and Rachel agrees, even though she is warned she will be meeting Nick’s family- and they are extremely tough, especially his mother.

Now, as this is set in the present day, it strains credibility that Rachel never really did a serious Google search to learn more about Nick’s family before she arrives in Singapore and is stunned by their immense wealth- which Nick decided to keep secret from her. But, as he explains, he knows she loves him for who he is and not for his family’s money.

The movie then explores the ups and downs that come with the various revelations about each character and, at the same time, we get to see a pretty travelogue of what a celebration vacation to Singapore looks like (think a bit of Tokyo mixed with New York mixed with Las Vegas- at least in the parts of Singapore shown here.)

Of course, Rachel and Nick’s love is tested repeatedly and there is the big showdown between Rachel and Nick’s mom- here over a game of mah jongg- and… well, the journey to the end is a lot more fun than the obvious ending, which still packs a big emotional wallop.

Smartly written by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim and directed by John Chu- up until now a director of mostly music and dance videos and TV shows I never heard of- this is a breakout job that instantly puts them all among the A list of Hollywood writers and directors. (And, of course, they already announced there will be a sequel.)

l to r: Peik Lin Goh, Nico Santos, Constance Wu; Vox, Sanja Bucko, Warner Bros.

The supporting cast includes Michelle Yeoh as Nick’s stern mother; Gemma Chan as Nick’s sister, Astrid; and a really funny turn by Peik Lin Goh as Rachel’s old college roommate, Awkwafina. For a little star power, Ken Jeong has a small role as Awkwafina’s father and Jimmy O. Yang- who is so funny on HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’- gets a few moments, too, but both are under- utilized.

Still, enjoy the movie for the fun ups and downs of Nick and Rachel’s romance, their crazy relatives and friends and the great- and lavish- Singapore scenery. You won’t be disappointed, and I give ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ 4 stars out of 5.

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