I still remember seeing Harold and Kumar go to White Castle for the first time, and how weirdly important it was to see an Asian not want to do the math problems AND get the girl in the end.
“Crazy Rich Asians” brings a refreshing new voice to the romantic-comedy genre. There are two separate conversations that need to be had for the film, the movie itself and the impact it will have on Hollywood. My mother is a first-generation Asian-American, so this movie was going to be important to me no matter what the result was.
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This movie doesn’t tell the story of my mother or many other Asian-Americans, but it is still incredible to watch a movie with an all Asian cast for the first time in my life. “Crazy Rich Asians,” directed by Jon M. Chu, has been criticized for telling a story that is difficult for many Asian-Americans to relate to. Though it’s impossible to tell all the stories of an entire group of people in one movie.
The movie stars Constance Wu as Rachel Chu, an Asian-American economics professor at New York University. Her character is introduced playing poker against one of her students to demonstrate game theory. Anyone who has played poker before will certainly cringe at this scene. First of all, poker games take a while, even if it’s just between two people. Did the class spend the entire period watching the two play poker? They certainly had to play more than one hand, you can’t go all in on the first hand. It made me think that maybe Rachel isn’t the best professor if she’s willing to spend a whole class playing poker to teach game theory in an economics class.
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Anyways, Rachel has been dating fellow professor at NYU, Nick Young, for about a year. The two attend a wedding together in Singapore where Nick is the best man. Right before meeting the family, Rachel learns that the Young family is one of the richest in all of Asia. From that point on, director Jon Chu highlights the “rich” in “Crazy Rich Asians.”
There are huge mansions, crazy parties and beautiful clothes. Rachel does her best to keep up and impress Nick’s mother. Explaining the plot from here sounds like many other movies before it — an outsider tries to adapt to new scenery until realizing she should embrace who she really is.
“Crazy Rich Asians” is different, however, because it is able to effectively show the struggle that many Asian-Americans go through to find where they belong. In America, many have been seen as outsiders and have to create their own communities. What many Americans don’t understand, however, is the struggle that Asian-Americans experience when they go back to Asia.
Even though Rachel looks and talks the same as all the people around her, she is constantly judged for her American tendencies and not coming from wealth. In the beginning, she does her best to keep up but ultimately understands that she doesn’t want to be in that world, and she shouldn’t feel ashamed for that. It’s an important story for many Asian-Americans, and this is the first time I can remember seeing it on screen.
Wu and Golding as Rachel and Nick give charming performances. In any romantic-comedy, you have to be rooting for the leads, even if you know they are going to be together in the end. Around them is an all-star, Asian Avenger-like cast that all deliver. Gemma Chan plays Astrid, Young’s cousin — perfectly elegant and flawless. Michelle Yeoh plays Nick’s mother, delivering many great Asian-mother intimidating glares that will surely make every Asian-American uneasy. The star of the supporting cast was Awkwafina, who plays Rachel’s go-to friend Peik Lin Goh. Awkwafina delivered the biggest laughs in the film, showing that she can be a real comedic star.
“Crazy Rich Asians” had incredibly high, and unfair, expectations to reach. Even though it’s not an Oscar-winning film (lookout for a costume design nomination though), it still is an important film that provides a fun experience. With this, “Set It Up” and “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” we have seen a reemergence of romantic-comedy this summer. Two of those were on Netflix, so it’s even better to see that this genre can still thrive at the box office.