Crazy Rich Asians
Next time I need a laugh-out-loud movie to watch, Crazy Rich Asians will be top of the list. I spent the whole movie cracking up at all the jokes and hilarious moments.
See, when I heard that Kevin Kwan’s novel Crazy Rich Asians was turning into a motion picture, I was excited, but I was also worried. I was worried that the movie would be swept under the rug and that it would take at least another 25 years for Hollywood to feature an Asian cast, like what happened to The Joy Luck Club (1993) and Flower Drum Song (1961).
So when I heard the news that Crazy Rich Asians, directed by Jon M. Chu, dominated its first week at the box office, I was relieved. My fears were assuaged and I hoped that this could be the movie that would make Hollywood more open to Asian stories and experiences.
The story is simple. Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) accompanies her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. When she arrives, she learns that Nick’s family is crazy rich. Rachel becomes a target of jealous socialites, eccentric relatives, and Nick’s domineering mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), who disapproves of their relationship.
On the surface, the plot seems pretty typical, but a closer look quickly reveals that this movie is about much more than just a modest woman who attracts the prince. It’s a story of a strong Asian woman who looks at the people around her and shows them that she is not defined by her looks or the amount of money she has – she is more than that. She shows them that she is not going to swerve like a chicken; instead, she rises above their judgment and she fights them head-on by showing them that she’s not someone who is easily intimidated.
Crazy Rich Asians gave me everything I enjoy about a good romcom. It’s filled with hilarious jokes, fantastic characters, and heart-warming moments that made me feel all the feels.
Besides that, Crazy Rich Asians is without a doubt a win for representation. Not only did Chu do an excellent job adapting Rachel and Nick’s story for the screen, but he also showcased the talents of the supporting cast by giving them all a moment to show off their versatile and energetic personalities.
The director highlighted everyone’s personalities and the movie felt whole because he handled the ensemble cast aspect effectively. It wasn’t just Rachel and Nick I was interested in, I was also fascinated by the bouncy and ballsy Peik Lin (Awkwafina), the sophisticated and stylish Astrid (Gemma Chan), and even the ridiculous and rapturous Bernard (Jimmy O. Yang). Without the ensemble cast, I don’t think the movie would be complete. Everyone had a moment to shine and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Everything about Crazy Rich Asians is sort of a “Bok-Bok Bitch” (a meme-worthy line in the movie) with a middle finger up to Hollywood. It shows the industry that when they bet on representing diversity and inclusivity, they can win.
Crazy Rich Asians is a monumental movie because it shatters Asian stereotypes. First, it de-exoticizes the notion that Asian women are weak and submissive by showing more humanized, strong, and active characters like Nick’s mother Eleanor, Rachel, and Astrid (Gemma Chan). Secondly, it tackles the structural emasculation of Asian men in mainstream media. The movie presents the audience with ‘desirable’ and ‘dateable’ Asian men like Nick who challenge the typical ‘undateable’ and ‘unattractive’ geek cliché we often see presented in the media.
Personally, I found it incredible to see an Asian-centric movie about Asian experiences. Being able to relate to characters and their stories reflected on screen was something I thought was nearly impossible. Being able to see a reflection of myself in the characters’ personal traits and relating to the Asian experiences like the traditions and cultures was a meaningful experience for me because I rarely see those things in mainstream cinema.
I hope this movie leads the way to an overdue opening of Hollywood to Asian narratives and experiences because I know it will be important for other Asians to see their stories reflected on screens.