“Crazy Rich Asians” is an enchanting romantic comedy that shatters Asian stereotypes
When Nick Young (Henry Golding) asks his girlfriend Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) to fly with him from Manhattan to Singapore for his best-friend’s wedding, she has no idea what lies ahead.
Unbeknownst to Rachel, Nick is Singapore’s richest, most eligible bachelor. And no one, least of all his icy mother (Michelle Yeoh) and imperious grandmother (Lisa Lu), understands why he’s chosen this NYU economics professor, a Chinese-American raised by a single, working-class mother (Tan Kheng Hua).
Unsuspecting Rachel is immediately confronted by a sybaritic wonderland of extravagant wealth and undermined by catty, status-conscious rivals for Nick’s attention and affection.
Rachel’s only confidante is sassy Peik Lin Goh (hip-hop’s Awkwafina), her Singaporean college pal who lives with her ostentatious, nouveau-riche parents (Ken Jeong/Koh Chieng Mun).
And even though Nick’s glamorous sister, elegant Astrid Leong (Gemma Chan), empathizes with Rachel’s dilemma, she’s dealing with her own marital complications.
American culture is presented as prioritizing one’s passion for career/happiness, while proud Chinese tradition favors family, even if that means individual sacrifice. It’s touch-and-go until savvy Rachel triumphs in a Mahjong showdown with dignity, integrity and class.
And stick around for Astrid’s bonus, mid-credit scene with billionaire Charlie Wu (Harry Shum Jr.), perhaps signaling a sequel.
Based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 best-seller about China’s competitive super-rich, it’s adapted by Adele Lim & Peter Chiarelli and directed by John M. Chu, who astonishes with a $30 million budget, working closely with the Malaysian and Singapore governments for access to the Marina Bay Sands’ rooftop with its spectacular infinity pool, Chijame Hall as the wedding chapel and Gardens By the Bay for the reception.
While most of the opulent jewels, expensive watches and frothy fashions were borrowed from high-end designers/dealers, Michelle Yeoh’s emerald ring was from the actress’ own collection.
FYI: This is the first Hollywood studio movie since Wayne Wang’s “Joy Luck Club” (1993) to have an all-Asian/Asian-American cast. And producers turned down a seven-figure Netflix offer in favor of a theatrical release.
Despite uneven pacing, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Crazy Rich Asians” grazes a dazzling 9, an enchanting romantic comedy that shatters Asian stereotypes.