Crazy Rich Asians: Just try to hate it, we double dare you

Review: The movie marks a welcome return for the giddy, glamorous Hollywood romcom

The official trailer for Crazy Rich Asians, starring Constance Wu and Henry Golding. Video: Warner Bros.

Film Title: Crazy Rich Asians

Director: Jon M. Chu

Starring: Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Gemma Chan

Genre: Comedy

Running Time: 121 min

Wed, Sep 12, 2018, 05:00

   

Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), a Chinese-American professor at New York University and a hugely likeable clever-clogs, accompanies her suave boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), a Chinese businessman from Singapore, home for his best friend’s wedding. Only then does Rachel learn that Nick is the heir to a real-estate empire, a “crown prince” as the locals have it. Nick’s imperious mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), expects him to return to Singapore and marry a suitable – read rich – local.

Much has been written about the film’s historic significance. This is the first Hollywood studio movie to feature an Asian-American cast since The Joy Luck Club was released a quarter-of-a-century ago. It scored unprecedented success at the US box office, and there is already a sequel in development for this winning adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s 2013 bestseller, and rival studios and networks are suddenly scrambling to greenlight Asian-led projects.

Aside from these important issues of representation and diversity, Crazy Rich Asians marks a welcome return for the funny, giddy, likeable, glamorous Hollywood romcom.

Just try to hate it, we double dare you.

The new Chinese ascendancy is lightly, but never meanly, satirised. Lapdogs are named Vanderbilt. Family homes are inspired by Versailles and Trump Tower. Security guards sport uniforms inspired by the British Raj. Every brand on the planet is namechecked and worn. And as for the wedding, well, this isn’t any old wedding porn; it’s the best wedding porn new money can buy.   

Some of the subplots, particularly a diversion concerning the marital troubles between Nick’s cousin (Gemma Chan) and her lowborn husband, don’t sit well within the overall opulent packaging. But there are wonderful broad comic turns in the margins, notably from Awkwafina, as Rachel’s old college chum, and Jimmy O. Tang as a ludicrously gauche groomsman.

At heart, however, this is big-skirted Cinderella story that coasts along on the chemistry between Wu and Golding – and is entirely resistant to attempts at Maoist analysis.

Opens September 14th