The movie comes at a time of debate over "white washing" in Hollywood (hiring white actors to portray Asian characters) and complaints - from some - that industry inclusion has become a black and white issue. Happily, it doesn't collapse under that weight. "What it taught me is that if you do one and you do it really well, they will make more". You couldn't do better than Awkwafina, playing Rachel's old college roommate and hilariously proving that "nouveau riche" translates to every culture. Rachel is dating a fellow academic named Nick Young, played by a dreamy British-Malaysian newcomer named Henry Golding. It opens in NY, where NYU economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) has no idea that her boyfriend of a year, Nick Young (Henry Golding), comes from one of the wealthiest families in Singapore.
HENRY GOLDING: (As Nick Young) Singapore for Spring Break, Colin's wedding. "We'd love to have other people tell their stories as well". Come on, I'm Colin's best man.
CONSTANCE WU: (As Rachel Chu) Peik Lin. It's not exactly one of the film's juicier roles, but Golding brings a great deal of personality that elevates Nick beyond a story detail.
"I'm so proud to be part of this", Yeoh said. It wants you over there.
"I could sense every lawyer on the call shaking their heads: 'Ugh, these stupid idealists.' Here, we have a chance for this big payday instantaneously", Kwan told the publication.
The Verdict: Like so many romantic comedies and/or melodramas about the highs and lows of people for whom money is no object, Crazy Rich Asians is explicitly in the business of lovingly rendered wealth porn, and your enjoyment of it will largely depend upon your tolerance for that sort of thing. The problem? Nick never bothered to tell Rachel about his family. She'll meet his family, and they'll take an important step forward in their relationship.
The large ensemble cast includes Nick's iron-willed grandmother, played by the veteran Chinese-American actress Lisa Lu from the 1993 drama "The Joy Luck Club", the last major American studio film to feature such a dizzying array of pan-Asian acting talent. The chemistry between Rachel and Nick is delicious. Movies, especially romantic comedies, often tell the same story: a workaholic 26-year-old white blonde woman, who is played by an actress in her 30s, can't find love because she's too obsessed with her job. And Michelle Yeoh is mesmerizing as Nick's quietly formidable mother, Eleanor, who's dead set against letting her son marry someone so apparently unworthy of the Young dynasty.
"I see Asian Americans, they leave these screenings and they're in tears". Let's hope Crazy Rich Asians is the beginning of a trend. Joe: "Retaliation", directs with a sharp eye and an exuberantly personal touch. Crazy Rich Asians has the "comedy" part down, but the movie truly centers itself around love - love in the form of friendship, community and self-worth.
Crazy Rich Asians is in theaters now. There's something curiously validating about a Hollywood romantic comedy that pauses for a mouthwatering tour of a Singapore open-air market or a makeover montage set to a Cantonese rendition of Madonna's "Material Girl".
GROSS: Justin Chang is a film critic for the LA Times.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Soon-To-Be Famous: Much of the hype surrounding Crazy Rich Asians has focused on the unlikelihood of a big-budget Hollywood production being built around an all-Asian cast, directed by an Asian filmmaker (Jon M. Chu), based on a hit novel by an Asian writer (Kevin Kwan), and aimed largely at Asian audiences, who've been served by so many rich global film traditions but far less so in the USA over the years.
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