Campbell Hamai | Reporter
Directed by Jon M. Chu, the romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians” is funny, gorgeous and definitely dreamy. With a terrific cast, glamorous locations, witty jokes and a classic story given new life, this movie is worth seeing in theaters, maybe even twice! On top of all that, it may prove to audiences that both Asian-centered stories and romantic comedies are not to be ignored.
“Crazy Rich Asians’” plot follows Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel of the same name and manages to pull a lot of the book’s content within a two-hour timeframe. The movie includes some of the most beloved tropes of the rom-com cinema. Hints of Cinderella, a classic template for many romances, can be found throughout the movie and provides that nostalgic fairytale quality to this crazy love story.
Along with an almost all-Asian cast, acting in this english-language Hollywood movie the result is a romantic comedy classic that manages to feel fresh with a central story that is foreign territory for Hollywood both literally and figuratively.
(Spoiler Alert!) Our main character is Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), a Chinese-American New York University (NYU) economics professor, who decides to spend spring break with her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding), who’s going home to Singapore to be the best man in his friend’s wedding. What Rachel doesn’t know is that Nick comes from a fabulously wealthy family. But it soon becomes clear that his family and their idea of social standards are far, far wealthier than anything she could have imagined.
Rachel is a type of rom-com heroine that I have not seen in a long time: she has her personal and professional life together just fine; she has a healthy relationship with her handsome boyfriend, who loves her; she loves her mother and is loved by her in return; and she is able to form warm relationships with other women, in particular the reliable Peik Lin.
Rachel, although certainly wowed by Nick’s gold-plated world, doesn’t succumb to the outrageous charms of the Young family. She never trips over her skirt or accidentally insults someone. She is confident, competent, kind, respectful, and invested in her own family. Even though Nick’s friends and family are certain she’s a gold digger, the relationship between the two is genuine — Rachel was never after his money in the first place. Not portrayed as a hot mess or as a woman desperately waiting for Mr. Right, Rachel Chu finishes just as she started: strong and independent, with the exchange of a secretly rich boyfriend for a very rich husband. Just as any woman is capable of.
We follow Rachel as she manages to navigate through the wild extravagance of the world of the old money Young Family. While pushing past judgement and rigid social expectations passed down generations of the people of Singapore. This modern-day Cinderella, proves herself to all that look down on her and retains dignity while wearing “a lucky color[ed]” dress. It’s a great setup for a joyous, eye-popping, dramatic spectacle — centered on a lavish wedding, no less — and “Crazy Rich Asians” probably could have left it at that and still been a huge success.
As a number of critics have written, just seeing an all-Asian cast in complex roles is a game changer; the film challenges racial expectations and brings underrepresented voices before a huge audience. But even setting aside its strides for on screen representation, “Crazy Rich Asians” also succeeds as both a celebration and subtle subversion of the romantic comedy. It does what great romantic comedies do, it makes you laugh, smile, cheer for the heroine and root for love, while simultaneously challenges some conventional expectations about Hollywood romantic comedies and not just in its casting.