I understand why this became among the summer’s hottest hits, its entertaining, funny story defies the overly White image of Hollywood, and appeals to the deepest desires of everyone who love seeing rich movie characters living an ideal lifestyle. Does that automatically label Crazy Rich Asians as decent? Well, it does keep to a standard no-risk level like that of any romantic comedy released during the summer, although it still got its various charms…
The protagonist, Rachel, a first-generation Chinese American, has been named a “banana,” yellow on the outside, White on the inside, with an appearance to match her situation perfectly; her hairstyle resembles a classic US magazine fashion cover, though she being middle class still looks ordinary enough. Her façade works once she travels with her boyfriend, Nick, to Singapore, where everyone she meets has a more sophisticated standard of beauty. That goes as well to her old blonde friend she visits, played by the funniest actress, Awkwafina, who is a pure gold persimmon: yellow inside and out.
You feel Rachel’s awkwardness when she meets the world of wealthy living, which helps later as it justifies when her heart gets broken. It comes in a situation for her when everyone is having a wonderful time celebrating the room’s most adorable couple, yet she’s too caught up in her own trouble to pretend she’s happy too. I should know her pain; I’ve been to eleven weddings in my life (just went to a reception last week). Here, a devastatingly strong #MeToo moment informs you why many, such as her mother, come to America from other countries.
I can’t really call it effective in the long run however, because the filmmaking is as bland as every rom-com ever made. Any hint of visual creativity from the cinematography is in a zesty montage of stylish modern text graphics, a creative oversaturated style never done again later. In fact, the montage is unfit for the film’s intentional feel of sophisticated living contrasted against poor living. The experience consequently feels far more American than Asian, especially with how the events play out, when personal pleasure (an American value) is proven to be greater than family (an Asian value- the movie’s words, not mine). No amount of joyless establishing shots relishing in Singapore’s great landmarks can make this film any less American than it clearly is.
In fact, the finished product didn’t really need a PG-13 rating, nor should have it aimed for one, because the subject matter would most likely bore teenagers into scrolling through Instagram while still in the theater. An R-rating honestly would’ve resulted in a sincerer telling of the events without the pressure to win over a wide family market. With that pressure present, the script based on Kevin Kwan’s novel presses a hypocritical theme irrelevant to older generations, saying that being young, rich, and beautiful is more important than family. To shut older viewers off even more, anybody over the age of fifty acts either cold, goofy, or one of those two traits one act then another the next.
But to be fair, when it comes to portraying the look of rich people in Singapore, the costumes’ grandness comes off very much authentic. Costume designer Mary E. Vogt (Men in Black) honors Chinese culture with several clever details coming straight out of Chinese culture: Blue and white is for Chinese funerals, and Red represents fertility! You are guaranteed to keep track easily of everything the characters wear, which helps strengthen the comedy since everyone is so identifiable. I should also comment on the bride’s blooming dress, a true work of craftmanship that along with water glistening the isle she walks across, and artificial fireflies held by the crowd, took my breath away!
It’s things like this that tempts me to travel to Singapore, as Jon M. Chu’s direction shows clear love to its tourist destinations, especially with the attention put into crustacean meals and closeup shots on dumpling making! But at the same time, I must remind myself that the food lingered on results from a dreadful editing job, one so bad that it even overlooks when hands change positions between shots! I can only imagine how many meaningful scenes of Rachel meeting Nick’s relatives landed on the cutting room floor for tourist servitude. Worst of all, just when you think the picture will end in a different, mature way from other fantasy-driven romantic comedies, nope! The entire last five minutes suddenly hammers a dumb Hollywood climax, one that could’ve and should’ve been cut to better results.
Now listen, you can still celebrate the diversifying of Hollywood (which I agree is a wonderful thing), yet there’s something non-race related about this movie I want to make very clear: Unlike what Crazy Rich Asians thinks, you don’t need a fancy dress to be happy, because true joy comes from your loved ones. A wedding involves not cake or decorations but binding together a couple who deeply loves each other. Anything physical lasts one day. A marriage lasts a lifetime.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Crazy Rich Asians. Warner Bros. Entertainment. Web. <http://www.crazyrichasiansmovie.com/>.
Kelley, Sonaiya. “Constance Wu, left, and Koh Chieng Mun star in ‘Crazy Rich Asians.’.” Digital image. Warner Bros. Pictures. Los Angeles Times, 19 Aug 2018. Web. <http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-box-office-crazy-rich-asians-20180819-story.html#>.