“Crazy Rich Asians” makes a statement by showcasing Asian-American actors on the big screen. PHOTO/ Edibles Magazine
By Bethany Weniger
Published: September 12th, 2018
“Crazy Rich Asians” accomplishes a rare feat; it is entertaining and enjoyable while it also makes a statement. It showcases a new cast of actors that have been virtually nonexistent on the silver screen.
Directed by John M. Chu (“Now You See Me”) and starring a striking cast led by Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, and Awkwafina, “Crazy Rich Asians” tells the story of Rachel Chu (Wu) who travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend Nick Young’s (Golding), family – only to find out that they are excessively wealthy and that Nick is one of the country’s most sought after bachelors. In addition to the initial culture shock and newfound information about her boyfriend, Rachel must also find a way to win over his mother (Yeoh), who doesn’t show any signs of being wooed.
The storyline has rich themes and a depth not usually seen in the typical rom-com, analyzing the pulls between old and new world differences in the face of tradition and culture. The production aspects are well-done and incredible – fulfilling all the lavish and luxurious fantasies the book requires with extravagant locations, magnificent clothes and accessories, and details effusing with opulence. Then, set against those backdrops, what really sets the movie apart is its collection of characters. They’re bold, proud, loving, protective, fierce, funny, well-intentioned, and refreshingly human portrayals of Asians. Each has his or her strengths and flaws, styles and idiosyncrasies, and is nuanced with layers rarely seen written for an Asian role. Witty and well-written dialogues inspire laughter as they reveal their desires and dislikes, while carefully crafted moments to tug at our heartstrings as they give us a glimpse into their fears and dreams. Striking a sweet balance between depth and fun, “Crazy Rich Asians” is a movie about identity and change, and hopefully, with its sequel in the works, the onscreen idea of progressivism will transcend off screen to usher in a new era of film both for rom-coms and for Asians.
As the first Hollywood studio film in 25 years to feature a predominantly Asian and Asian-American cast, “Crazy Rich Asians” was already set to make history. Since the premier of “The Joy Luck Club” in 1993, Asian characters have rarely been seen on the screen – especially in main roles. In 2017, only 5% of the characters in the 100 top grossing films were of Asian descent, and of those, only four characters were leads. Additionally, only four of the 109 directors of those top 100 films were Asian. The film had high stakes, both for those involved in the project and for those eager to see what other opportunities it would create for Asian-led films in the future. Chu and his team signed on with Warner Bros., turning down a significant deal with Netflix in the pursuit of creating a film that would be seen in theaters the traditional way. With a $30 million budget, they set out with the intense pressure to cast, shoot, and produce what would be the only majority Asian and Asian-American film in over two decades. There was no way of telling whether or not the film would be a massive success or an unfortunate failure.
However, as of September 5, “Crazy Rich Asians” broke box office records and, according to Box Office Mojo, surpassed $100 million, bringing in a total of over $121 million domestically and $22.7 million in foreign markets. The film does not simply rely on its on-screen Asian representation to carry it through the charts; the ethnic diversity is just an added bonus to an excellent movie.