‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Shines at Summer’s End

Brian Lang

More stories from Brian Lang

Summer is over, but Hollywood has one last blockbuster to offer. Box Office hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” based on the bestselling novel by Kevin Kwan, is the grand finale in a fireworks display of summer movies.

Rachel Chu’s (Constance Wu) life is perfect. She’s the youngest faculty member ever at NYU, she lives a comfortable life in Manhattan and she’s caught up in a perfect relationship with her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding). When he invites her to go back to his home in Singapore for his best friend’s “wedding of the century”, Rachel gets to truly see how the other half lives.

After landing in Singapore, Rachel finds herself surrounded by accusations of gold-digging, a cold reception from Nick’s family and their coterie and growing tensions in her relationship with Nick, with the ultimate obstacle being Nick’s mom refusing to accept the relationship. Will Rachel be able to make it in the world of the wildly wealthy?

This film is a blast to watch and a breath of fresh air in the romantic comedy genre. Its story is familiar, but never treads into old cliches and its characters are relatable but still diverse. It features strong female characters in Rachel, her old roommate Peik Lin (hilariously played by Awkwafina) and Nick’s cold mother Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) that are well fleshed out and branch out from traditional rom-com archetypes.

However, the real star of “Crazy Rich Asians” is the lavish set pieces and lush scenery that fills every frame. Director Jon M.Chu spared no expense in creating the illusion of opulence and each scene is bigger and better than the last. The screen is saturated with color, making this Singapore paradise overwhelmingly, jaw-droppingly beautiful.

The characters are well cast especially Michelle Yeoh’s role. Her icy elegance is perfect here, but she manages to open up briefly like the rare Tan Hua flowers growing in the Young’s greenhouse, adding depth to a character that could be seen as merely two-dimensional.

Henry Golding as Nick also shines here with charisma and confidence. With this being his first on-screen role, he’s definitely a star on the rise. Awkwafina’s role as the comedic sidekick is a crowd favorite, with her character, Peik Lin, acting as a guide for Rachel and throwing in witty one-liners along the way.

This movie has the odds stacked against it. Rarely do romantic comedies succeed at the box office, and even rarer do movies with Asian leads do any better. With a story full of heart and a strong team of actors, “Crazy Rich Asians” comes out on top. In a month where great movies are scarce, “Crazy Rich Asians” is a shining oasis at the box office.