Crazy Rich Asians throws a lot of conspicuous consumption, a game cast of mainly Chinese actors, and a lot of Joy Luck Club lite and comes up with a winning romance that doesn’t break ancient Hollywood tradition. There is enough Asian wisdom and comedy on display to keep Crazy Rich Asians unique to American eyes without trifling with its core oriental overseas audience.
Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat tv comedy) and Henry Golding (a newcomer who will be featured in the upcoming A Simple Favor and Monsoon) play the couple deeply in love as they face the love never runs smooth complications of class distinctions and matronly disapproval (Michelle Yeoh of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The only thing new here is all the cast energy being generated.
Director John M. Chu, a veteran of the Step Up series and a G.I. Joe sequel, knows how to handle the comic gyrations, choreograph the dance of love and the explosions of decadent opulence required.
There is a lot of traditional Chinese stereotypes balanced with enough fresh off the boat cribbing of some typical roles found in other American romantic comedies to keep Crazy Rich Asians seeming fresh yet still warmly comfortable. Everything is kept moving and spinning that no one notices how traditional it really is.
Crazy Rich Asians is content to live up to its title and a little bit more. Henry Golding’s male lead has no real dark edges and his constant earnestness keeps his character from getting dull, while the undercast (Awkwafina and Ken Jeong provide the nouveau riche gaucherie) is populated with enough comic characters and actors to keep it funny and real .
Crazy Rich Asians should play well everywhere for those content for it to be just Asian and not bothered by the fact that those that know it well (in Singapore where it has been criticized for not be truly representative of the country’s real class distinctions) won’t see it as Asian enough.