Movie Review: Crazy Rich Asians

(From Facebook, Sunday 26 August)

Today we saw Crazy Rich Asians, a pleasant if fairly conventional Hollywood comedy romance, the distinctive and attractive feature being that the entire cast is Asian, and it’s mostly set in Singapore among the very wealthy. It’s about an Asian-American NYU economics professor, Rachel Chu (who lectures in an opening scene about game theory, and uses it later in the film), whose (Asian) boyfriend Nick Young takes her to Singapore to meet his family, which she hadn’t realized is fabulously wealthy. The plot proceeds as we meet numerous characters in Singapore, family and friends, in quick succession, as if to illustrate to American audiences the truism that all Asians are by no means the same; and then with the resistance of Young’s mother (played by Michelle Yeoh) to Nick’s marriage to an Asian-American commoner (two strikes). A cultural theme emerges, as the disapproving mother prioritizes family allegiance and generational wealth over individual happiness (and the mere American idea of pursuing one’s dream). How does this theme play out to a conventional Hollywood happy ending? Hmm. It’s a glamorous, lifestyles of the (Asian) rich and famous film, with spectacular views of Singapore (a city I’ve read about but never seen, in person or in film that I recall), and there are some entertainingly eccentric secondary characters, but much of the dialogue is merely serviceable, if not trite (I kept wanting this or that character to say something more…), and the plot reversals that lead to the conventionally happy Hollywood ending are shameless. Still — the acting is good to great, and the depiction of a society foreign to most American moviegoers is laudable. If there are sequels, we’ll go see them.

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