Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
The Awesome: Production and design lived up to the hype, considering they were going to have to pull off convincing us that this family was ultra-rich and they succeeded because everything looks and feels expensive once we enter the lives of those wealthy families. The energy of the film is electric and that is attributed to the spirit the actors brought to the film. I loved that the themes in the film are so universal that I barely noticed the all-Asian cast. The cast did a great job moving the story along and many brought depth to what could have been irrelevant characters. I especially related to one thing that Rachel (Constance Wu) goes through when she arrives in Singapore, being viewed as a 'foreigner' in the motherland. Enjoyed the cultural elements presented in the relationships, like arranged marriages and pre-planned families, things my culture does not practice directly, I say that because at the end of the day, every parent wants their children to marry the most financially secure candidate. Rachel's last lines of dialogue to Eleanor at the Mahjong table basically saved the film because up to that point there was nothing spectacular in the script until the "...just a daughter of an immigrant and a nobody, who made it all possible." line blew the roof off. One thing i appreciated was there were No martial arts moments. Another thing I appreciated from the design was that although we were in modern mansions and opulent locations, they still breath traditional Chinese culture and tradition.
The Good: Although the rom-com conflict isn't anything we haven't seen before, I thought Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) and Rachel truly captured the tension needed in their relationship for the film to work. The character of Eleanor was hypnotizing and the subtle touches that made her vulnerable and dominating all while staying in super classy form really made her come to life. I found her dangerous, like she could call some people to deal with you but prefers doing it herself...she was a solid antagonist. The Chinese/American Vogue dress joke was hilarious. The film served to show that regardless of your race or culture, we can't escape the universal human element and themes regardless of how much you think you are different from everyone else. Really related to Rachel when she arrives in Singapore and is told she won't be considered full Chinese because she was raised in the USA. I had a similar experience when I visited Central America...although I was born there, being raised in the USA since the age of 4, somehow made me less Central American and was told that i even spoke spanish differently even though I'm fluent in all aspects of the language. Feeling semi-rejected by your own hometown was not something I expected, just like Rachel experiences. While not a huge fan of the Astrid (Gemma Chan) and Michael (Michael Teo) sub-plot, I did love how they gave the wealthy Astrid a point-of-view and brought out the unapologetic humanity in her character. I thought I would miss out on the regional inside jokes but didn't feel there were any references that went over my head.
The Bad: Early on we see Rachel and Nick (Henry Golding) at a cafe in NYC and two women snap a pic of both of them, these women work for a TMZ-ish site called Radio1Asia and the pics go viral.....but just in China??? and if that is true, then how the F' doesn't Rachel's best friend in China, Peik (Awkwafina) become aware of the relationship?? Peik only learns of the relationship after Rachel arrives in Singapore and visits her. That bothered me that everyone in Singapore knew about the relationship except the hometown best friend. At times the film came across as just a set up to future sequels as I found it to have a lot more flash than substance. The story was predictable as they usually are in this genre. The rich are better than us because they say so. The fact that it took Hollywood 25 years to once again, get out of the comfort zone and show us that we all share the same life themes and experiences and they are not limited to just one culture or part of the world.
The Ugly: A lot of cuts and edits were so disorienting that I found myself on a few occasions wondering if we had changed country locations. Like the Mahjong scene...i honestly thought that was happening in NYC. I thought it would have more comedy and wanted to laugh out loud but only Peik's character is consistently funny and she almost steals the entire film. The Astrid and Michael sub-plot was a bit muddled and could have used more scandal and I hated how the two wait for the most inopportune time to discuss their situation, i rolled my eyes because I was like, "right now, ya' gonna do this right now? more important shit going on you two"... and is why having their story surface here and there with no real meaning mad e me feel like their story is only there to setup the sequel, hence turning my interest in their story to a minimum, although i did appreciate giving Astrid's side of things a voice when their story is resolved.
Final Verdict: ...3/5... I was hoping it was going to be a real funny rom-com but it was actually more serious than I expected. Although I appreciated them keeping any slapstick and physical comedy out of the film, I thought the script had plenty of opportunity for some serious belly-laughs and that is not to say the film is without it's funny moments, I was just expecting to laugh a lot more. I was impressed with the balance in set design between the modern wealth and the rich historical culture and how you can see both in every scene once we arrive in Singapore. I really enjoyed the cast and the messages from both the regular and wealthy point of views. The film has a stylish-classic feel to it and from the starting credits, it makes you feel like you are going to watch something from 1960 and the film benefits from it. One thing I could not get over was the notion that some cultures control the family path to such extreme degrees. Nick is the heir to all this wealth and he still has to yield to his mother's desires and expectations, that is just so strange to me. It was a cool rom-com because it wasn't too sappy or heavy on the sentiments. We didn't get a lead that cried the entire time and I loved her toughness. I'm not impressed by material wealth so the opulence throughout the film gets boring and I even laughed at the wedding with the water flowing down the aisle...lmao...I thought it was silly. All that money and you want to have a swamp wedding. lmao. I am looking forward to the next RCA film and hope they take the characters and elements that worked and make the entire sequel out of those things.