“Crazy Rich Asians” from the perspective of an Average Income Asian

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Megan Nguyen, Herald Managing Editor

I am a full-blooded Vietnamese teenage girl in a white-majority community with little racial diversity, so you can imagine my thrill when Crazy Rich Asians released in theaters.  

Crazy Rich Asians is the first film in a long time with an Asian or Asian-American cast. This drama/comedy features Rachel Chu (Constance Wu,) a New York University economics professor, who is in love with the son of a wealthy Asian entrepeneur family, Nick Young (Henry Golding.) Chu accepts Young’s offer to vacation to Singapore as his guest to a wedding, but she remains in the dark about the weight of Young’s massive fortune and legacy until she arrives. On their first night, the two enjoy casual street food with Young’s long-time friend, Colin Khoo (Chris Pang,) and his fiance, Amrita Lee (Sonoya Mizuno.) Before long though, Rachel is the subject of Young’s critical and dissaproving family as well as other envious women. She is caught in the conflict between Nick’s obligation to his familty and mother, portrayed by Michelle Yeoh, and his devotion to herself.

This film mimicked qualities of a Jane Austen novel, where a high-class man can not help but love a low-class woman despite society’s disapproval, and combined them with satire and classic romcom elements.

The plot itself was short of original, but the cast portrayed their characters well enough that the film was somewhat exceptional. Viewers, myself included, could not help but root for Rachel as she went head to head with stubborn, entitled millionaires, to fight for her love. However, due to the lack of originality, the characters could have been better than they were. Rachel was the typical female lead: pretty, petite, and charmingly awkward. As for Golding’s character, Nick was the expected strong, kind, burdened-by-his-family male lead, and not to mention, unrealistically sexy. The difference between this couple and other romcom duos was that they were Asian.

While some aspects of Crazy Rich Asians could be described as subpar, others made it worthwhile. Director John M. Chu excelled in shooting some of the most beautiful scenes that has ever hit the big screen. Namely, the wedding scene, which I truly believe will go down in history as an icon. Although some would say that creating a fake river down bride’s isle is “extra,” I thought it was aesthetically spectacular. The rest of the film was actually shot in multiple parts of Asia, Singapore one of them, so the portrayal of an Asian setting lived up to the real thing. However, I will point out that Chu only got the most gorgeous, luxurious locations, leaving out quotidian settings in the streets or in a store. But I can not complain too much as the film is called Crazy Rich Asians, emphasis on “rich.” I can not relate.

Chu also included a makeover montage and a shopping spree scene. Romcom necessities.

Okay, so let’s get to my area of expertise: the Asian element. This aspect was arguably the most unique factor, but maybe I’m just biased. It took stereotypes and played them off in a non-offensive, satirical fashion providing comic relief for the audience. These jokes and lines could be best described by the word: relatable. Or a least in my case. And while I can’t speak for other Asian viewers, I definitely appreciated these little quirks and remarks in which only I, who is Asian, could understand why something was funny, not just know that it was.

I’d most definitely recommend Crazy Rich Asians to any and all viewers searching for a fluffy, sappy film. I think one would like it despite being Asian or not. After all, as Rachel’s close friend, Goh Peik Lin, would say, I am an “unrefined banana: yellow on the outside, and white on the inside,” and even I enjoyed the film.