Kevin Kwan’s hit book is adapted into a film that yields not only a properly-instilled cast but a rousing mix of emotional drama and hilarious comic antics.
Rachel Chu is an economics professor in New York. For the past year, she has been in a relationship with Nick Young, who unbeknownst to her is part of the wealthiest family in Singapore. When Nick is invited to be best man at his best friend Colin’s wedding, he feels it is time to invite Rachel to the wedding. However, before the wedding, the secret about Rachel, an American-born Chinese, has gotten out to the entire family.
Upon her arrival in Singapore, Rachel learns of Nick’s secret when her best friend Peik Lin Goh and her family spills the beans on Nick’s family. While Nick’s mother and the rest of the clan have immersed themselves into being the socialite family they are, Nick has always wanted to find someone who is normal because that’s his preference. Once Rachel meets Nick’s family, she finds herself out of place, especially with Nick’s mother Eleanor, who feels Nick needs to be with someone rich. However, along the way, Rachel gets in good with Nick’s cousin Astrid, who reveals a dark secret about her marriage. Will Rachel find herself ever accepted from this family or will their wealthy living be too much for her?
An adaptation of the first novel of his Crazy Rich series, Kevin Kwan’s hit 2013 book has wisely taken the correct route in casting an all Asian/Asian-American cast with the important notion that this film is exactly about what the title stands out to be: it’s a film about crazy rich Asians who thrive on their wealth and do so in both an arrogant and at times, hilarious fashion. Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim’s script is a well-scripted meshing of both emotional drama full of secrets that become the twists of the film as well as some hilarious antics that make this a definition of the term “dramedy”.
Constance Wu, who has had success with her laugh out loud role as “Tiger Mom” Jessica Huang on the TV series Fresh Off the Boat, goes the opposite route here, playing American-born Chinese economics professor Rachel, who wants nothing more than love with her Singaporean boyfriend Nick, played by Malaysian-British born actor Henry Golding. Their chemistry is the focal point of the film and they have that spark that makes the film move along. They clearly have both ups and downs in their relationship, but is clear that despite all obstacles, they do love each other.
The supporting cast is nothing but short of amazing. Michelle Yeoh once again proves to play it straight as the domineering and at times manipulative Eleanor, who has a meshing of “Tiger Mom” and “Mother Knows Best” presence. Gemma Chan breaks out as Astrid, Henry’s married cousin who is long suffering and finds a worthy confidant in Rachel. Rapper/actor Awkwafina is hilarious as Rachel’s friend Lin Goh as she provides much of the comedy along with a small appearance by Ken Jeong as Lin Goh’s dad as well as comedian Jimmy O. Yang as Bernard, Nick’s friend and bachelor party planner. Chris Pang is great as Colin, Nick’s best friend and most trusted confidant who worries about his relationship about Rachel, but knows Nick perhaps better than Eleanor. The legendary Lisa Lu also makes an appearance as the matriarch of the family, Shang Su Yi, Nick’s grandmother. Let’s not forget Nico Santos’ Oliver, Nick’s second cousin, who looks to channel his best Stanley Tucci impression, perhaps as Nigel in The Devil Wears Prada.
What helps drive the film is some of the shocking twists and turns in the form of secrets that highlight the emotional range of some of the characters. These twists start out hurting certain characters but ultimately, it does make them stronger and as a result, brings a more positive outlook for these characters.
Crazy Rich Asians is quite a unique blend of emotional drama and comic antics, all driven by its all-Asian cast, who are nothing but short of amazing as they churn out wonderful performances. Definitely one to check out.
WFG RATING: A-
Warner Bros. Pictures presents a Color Force and SK Global production. Director: Jon M. Chu. Producers: Nina Jacobsen, Brad Simpson, and John Penotti. Writers: Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim; based on the novel by Kevin Kwan. Cinematography: Vanja Cernjul. Editing: Myron Kerstein.
Cast: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Chris Pang, Jimmy O. Yang, Sonoya Mizuno, Ken Jeong, Nico Santos, Jing Lusi, Ronny Chieng, Remy Hii, Pierre Png, Fiona Xie, Carmen Soo.