Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Movie with Abe: Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians
Directed by Jon M. Chu
Released August 15, 2018

Every culture has its share of recognizable traits, favorite foods, and traditions. The diversity that exists in the world and even within America is rarely represented in cinema, with a disproportionate number of movie leads in romantic comedies and films of all kind looking the same. Breakthroughs like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” have managed to change that trend slowly, and this wildly popular film, released this past August and finally screened by this reviewer, gives a spotlight to the Asian community in a way that hasn’t really been done before in a major American movie.

Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is happily dating Nick Young (Henry Golding) and innocently accepts an invitation to travel home to Singapore with him to attend a good friend’s wedding. As soon as she enters the private first class suite for their international flight, she realizes that her sweet-natured boyfriend may have left out a bit about just how wealthy and influential his family is. As she navigates trying to fit in with a family that is impossibly fancier and more elitist than she is, particularly Nick’s intimidating mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), she relies on the help of her college roommate Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina) and the fact that her boyfriend coming from this world shouldn’t change how she feels about him.

This film begins with a scene that finds Eleanor, years earlier, turned away from an upscale British hotel late at night because of the way she and her family looked. That kind of discrimination is not seen again in the film, which features an entirely Asian cast with its own internal issues based mainly on class and on authentic heritage, with American assimilation seen as a negative to the members of the older generation that remembers the way they started out and haven’t lost sight of that.

Wu, who stars in “Fresh Off the Boat,” is a wonderful lead who portrays Rachel as a completely well-meaning, innocent economics professor who has little interest in all this luxury that she encounters the moment she embarks for Singapore. The standouts from the supporting cast are Gemma Chan from “Humans” as Nick’s kindhearted but lonely cousin Astrid and Awkwafina in a hilarious turn that enables her to steal every scene she’s in. This film may not be completely full of funny moments, but it is a winning, enjoyable, and fully engaging comedy that shows that its population is more than deserving of a showcase of its own.


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