Film review ‘CRAZY RICH ASIANS’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

The preposterous title of the hit rom-com Crazy Rich Asians suggests a crass race comedy of the kind not seen since TV shows of the 1970’s but thankfully that’s not the case. While this adaptation of the highly successful Kevin Kwan novels indulges a few clumsy stereotypes it’s really an extravagant take on an old-fashioned romantic fantasy with interestingly non-western cultural trappings.

The film centres on young Chinese-American economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) who is invited to attend her suave but mysterious new boyfriend Nick’s (Henry Golding) best friend’s (Colin Pang) wedding in Singapore. She discovers that Nick is actually heir to one of Singapore’s richest families, a clan who live in mind-boggling luxury but one ruled by an icy matriarch in Nick’s mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) who disapproves of the non-filthy rich upstart Rachel.

With Wu very likeable and sympathetic as Rachel, the forbidden romance angle of Crazy Rich Asians works reasonably well; the hostility directed toward Rachel by the snooty rivals for Nick’s affections is at times quite disturbing. Still, this is a pretty predictable film relying on romance movie formula with few narrative surprises and many cheesy resolutions. Also, it contains some cliched characters with the wise-cracking oddball friends played by Awkwafina and Ken Jeong, the disapproving mother, the backstabbing rivals and the Mr Perfect love interest in Nick who, as one character comments, looks like he’s stepped off the set of The Bachelor.

Director John Chu hasn’t exactly distinguished himself in previous films helming Step Up, GI Joe: Retaliation and Now You See Me 2 but he has shown a taste for flashy, energetic filmmaking which he employs effectively here making Crazy Rich Asians quite a visually intoxicating experience.

To some extent Crazy Rich Asians tries to emulate the Working Title style of rom-com/drama with posh, quirky people living in a romantic fantasy world. It occasionally works but the film doesn’t have the wit or the calibre of performance we see in those British rom-coms.

Crazy Rich Asians has generated particular excitement because it’s the first Hollywood film since the Joy Luck Club 25 years ago to feature an all-Asian cast. Seeing Hollywood embrace diversity in this way is certainly refreshing and we hope to see this infuse mainstream cinema beyond this film.

Nick’s rating: ***

Genre: Romantic comedy/ drama.

Classification: M.

Director(s): John Chu.

Release date: 30th Aug 2018.

Running time: 120 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show

 

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