Crazy Rich Asians is making headlines because of its transgressive production. It is the first major Hollywood film since 1993 to have a majority Asian-American cast, and the joy of this movie is that it proves this is inconsequential to the film. It delivers enough laughs and heart to stand alongside most rom-coms, though it does fall short of true greatness.
Casting is always key for a rom-com, with the main duo being crucial to the films enjoyment. ‘When Harry Met Sally’ would not be the same if it wasn’t for Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ or ‘You’ve Got Mail’ wouldn’t be the same without Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks…Basically, most Rom-Coms wouldn’t be the same without Meg Ryan. Though Crazy Rich Asians doesn’t star Meg Ryan, the cast in it are fantastic, most notably the romantic lead Henry Golding. It is astonishing to learn that this is his film acting debut, having started his career as a television host, for he is astoundingly entertaining viewing as the son of one of the wealthiest families in Singapore who struggles to get his girlfriend (Constance Wu) on board with their wealth.
Past the two leads, the film is quite an ensemble piece with many quirky characters all appearing throughout. I must admit that personally I wasn’t a fan of Awkwafina’s character (who should also be entered to the worst dressed of the year category) and felt that Ken Jeong, the hilarious actor known for the Hangover films, was criminally under-used.
The film is wonderfully lavish and feels like a modern take on The Great Gatsby. Its design is colourful and the montages are well edited, though some of the simpler editing tasks like syncing dialogue and movement are a little less well done. The script is equally a fine piece of work, but it does feel that a few too many lines were ad-libed on the day in the traditional style of broad attempts at quirky humour. It is also important to note that you shouldn’t watch this film on an empty stomach, as some of the food montages are almost pornographic in their gorgeous lavishness.
The film is a true showcase of the dangers of money. It proves that money cannot buy happiness, and can often corrupt people. That being said, it is always fun to see a film that isn’t afraid to truly ‘splash the cash’ as we see what the family spend their money on (most hilariously for me was a huge team of synchronised swimmers that swam on a rooftop pool above a skyscraper).
Ultimately, this film is a more than passable Rom-Com. It makes some good deep statements about materialism, tradition and jealousy while never too strongly hammering the points home. Though a good 20 minutes could have easily been trimmed from the run time, Crazy Rich Asians is a perfectly enjoyable and wonderfully effective Rom-Com that (as always) did get a couple of tears out of me.