As an avid reader, self-proclaimed rom-com enthusiast, and Asian American, you can imagine the look of horror on my friends’ faces when they asked me if I’d be interested in seeing Crazy Rich Asians this past weekend and I proceeded to respond, “What’s that?”
Little did I know that my expectations (and apparently the rest of the country’s) were about to be toppled by this rom-com film that was adapted from Kevin Kwan’s international best-selling novel. According to Entertainment Weekly, Crazy Rich Asians brought in $25.2 million in North American ticket sales during its opening weekend alone and stormed its way to No.1 at the box office.
So I had to know, what’s all the hype about?
Without giving the story away (no spoilers here), the movie follows Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) as she accompanies her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), to his best friend’s wedding in his hometown in Singapore. Plot twist: To Rachel’s surprise, Nick is actually crazy rich and one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. Rachel’s trip turns from being a luxurious, international adventure to learning how to navigate her boyfriend’s high-strung and pretentious relatives.
All of this had the makings of a solid rom-com plot, in my opinion. So after my friends showed me the trailer, I was in!
The next day we headed over to the Cinemark at the Lakeland Square Mall (because recliner seats, am I right?) and I must admit — the movie lived up to the hype.
However, you’re currently getting a recommendation from a novice movie reviewer. So you may still be asking yourself: Is this movie really worth seeing?
Well, only you can answer that question. But I do have five solid reasons why this movie matters in today’s culture, and why it should be considered a part of your weekend agenda (yes, even if it isn’t one of the selected MoviePass choices for the day).
1. The classic rom-com heroine obstacle
Boy and girl fall in love. They’re in the big city and living the dream. The stars are aligned and no one can stand in the way of this couple’s fairytale ending — except the disapproving mother. A solid conflict for a classic rom-com.
2. A needed response to a call for representation
This movie is the first Hollywood production in 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast. That’s a huge deal and great weight for Crazy Rich Asians to carry. According to an Annenberg study of the top 100 films of 2017, only 4.8% of movies featured a character of Asian descent with a speaking role. Crazy Rich Asians is a vital milestone for Asian representation in Hollywood.
3. Diverse storytelling that transcends race
On top of solid Asian representation, one of the most beautiful parts about this film is that you do not have to be Asian for this movie to resonate with you. Race and identity are undertones to a movie that highlights that wealth and extravagance aren’t everything, honoring family is significant, and finding your individual strength and purpose in the midst of it all can be life’s greatest adventure.
4. The treatment of characters, especially Asian women
It may be a radical notion, but to see an Asian lead who isn’t hypersexualized is a rarity. A 2016 study from the National Network to End Domestic Violence found that Asian women have “significantly higher” reported numbers of sexual violence from a partner during their lifetime — more than any other ethnic group. So the treatment of Rachel’s character is something really important to note in this film as media often does feed real-life consequences.
5. The wedding scene is everything
The visuals are dazzling, the set is lush, the wardrobe is glamorous, and the ensemble of talent that makes up the Crazy Rich Asians cast are all captured in this culminating scene. However, the crazy extravagance of it all has a quick, blissful resolve for multiple reasons during this emotionally high moment of the film. If you’ve seen it, you know. And when you do see it, you’ll know what I’m talking about, too.
All this to say — I wasn’t ready for the emotional movement that came from Crazy Rich Asians, and that made the experience all the better.
Also, I’m still laughing out loud thinking about some of the one-liners said by Rachel’s quintessential rom-com sidekick, Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina).