Rom-coms have been the domain of white privilege for so long, it’s going to take a lot more movies like Crazy Rich Asians to even the score. But Crazy Rich Asians is making up for lost time because it’s pretty much all the rom-com tropes in one with an Asian cast and theme!
Nick Young (Henry Golding) brings his girlfriend Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) to his best friend Colin (Chris Prang)’s wedding. While the whole family is colorful, Nick’s mom Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) does not approve of Rachel.
So you’ve got a little My Best Friend’s Wedding with Meet the Parents. Rachel gets invited to the bachelorette party and experiences a little Bridesmaids meets Mean Girls. Each of Nick’s siblings or cousins gets a Love Actually/Garry Marshall holiday movie subplot too. Of course there’s a makeover montage.
Romantic comedy is one of the most tried and true storytelling tropes in the world. Boy meets girl, yadda yadda yadda. So the point isn’t to reinvent the wheel here. It’s to do it bigger and better.
Director Jon M. Chu and designers Nelson Coates, Leslie Ewe, David Ingram, Gary MacKay, Andrew Baseman and costumer Mary E. Vogt really escalate the aspirational lavishness throughout the film.
If you thought the Young mansion was fancy, wait ‘til you see the bachelor party. And the wedding out does any big fat wedding from any other wedding movie.
The opening of Crazy Rich Asians gracefully introduces all of the couples in the Young family. You can feel the natural banter of people with the history of lifelong relationships.
Not every Young sibling has a full arc. Colin’s wedding pretty much goes off without a hitch, but Astrid (Gemma Chan) is such a loving, compassionate person, her story becomes as riveting as Rachel’s.
Of course, you spend long enough in any paradise and you discover its dark side. The emotional abuse and cruelty Rachel suffers shows nothing is free. Chu can turn those lavish scenes just as easily into nightmares as Rachel becomes trapped in a gilded cage.
Honestly, Crazy Rich Asians may have a healthier perspective on dysfunctional families than its Caucasian counterparts. The Fockers and co. always say put up with any abuse because they’re family.
Crazy Rich Asians knows this is messed up. They’re not defending or excusing any of it, and as such this movie confronts and deals with resisting that kind of passive-aggressive authority while maintaining respect and love.
Crazy Rich Asians didn’t have to be this good to justify its existence. Everyone deserves to see movies that reflect them. But while they were at it, Crazy Rich Asians just might have reinvigorated the whole rom-com genre.
Crazy Rich Asians is in theaters Wednesday, August 15.