Crazy Rich Asians is one of the best films of 2018. Period.
Over the past few years, the romantic comedy genre has been dying out. Where there used to be plenty of rom-coms in theaters throughout the year, there is now maybe one solid release a year, if that. Netflix has helped rebuild the genre, but in terms of theatrical release, it seems as if the genre may be coming back by way of telling more diverse stories. In 2017, The Big Sick hit theaters and was not only a solid entry into the genre, but was a phenomenal movie period. In 2018 we were graced with another solid rom-com that is also a phenomenal film on every single level possible: Crazy Rich Asians.
Directed by Jon M. Chu (Now You See Me 2), the film is based on the novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan and was written by Peter Chiarelli (The Proposal) and Adele Lim (Dynasty). The movie follows Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and Nick Young (Henry Golding) as they head to Singapore for Nick’s best friend’s wedding where Nick is set to be the best man. After dating for over a year, Rachel will also finally meet Nick’s family in Singapore. Unbeknownst to Rachel before the trip, Nick’s family is insanely rich thanks to multiple business ventures which have made them a staple within the China elite.
The film essentially follows the storyline you’d expect, with Nick being from a wealthy family of Elites and Rachel being raised by a single middle-class mother. Where the film excels is in its portrayals of every character. Even when Rachel butts heads with Nick’s mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), Eleanor never feels like some completely evil character. So much of this is not only in the writing but in the acting and directing of the film. Yeoh plays Eleanor as this loving, but opinionated mother. She shows that she does like Rachel as a person but that Rachel’s just not enough for Nick in her eyes.
The other element that helps the film is the portrayal of Rachel and her college roommate/confidante Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina). Neither character is played as being “less than” in any way. Rachel is an NYU professor of economics with a great relationship with her mother. Peik Lin is funny, but she’s not the “crazy funny friend.” She’s just a friend and confidante for Rachel when things go crazy. Most films will take these roles and these types of characters and turn them into a caricature of what women are truly like in these situations, but Crazy Rich Asians never portrays anyone in a completely negative light. Even the people who are foils to the main characters have redeeming elements to them. They’re all incredibly human, and because of that, the film feels real and honest and beautiful.
There are a million things to love about Crazy Rich Asians, from the cast, to the script, to the music– which features Chinese covers of classic pop songs. It’s full of so many amazing things, that as soon as it’s done, you’ll want to watch it all over again. It’s a nearly perfect film on so many levels, and above all else, it does that by being realistic and having heart. These characters could have been caricatures in so many different ways. From the ways in which we’ve seen Asian characters portrayed in the past (re: poorly), to the way these types of films portray women in the past (re: poorly), this film could have been terrible. But it acknowledges that everyone has a story to tell and that everyone, no matter where they come from or what their background may be, is worthy of our love. And Crazy Rich Asians is worthy of it as well.
Crazy Rich Asians is currently available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and from digital retailers.