By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
A few years ago, when I interviewed director Jon M. Chu
for his dance movie, “Step Up 2: The Streets,” I asked the Palo Alto, California native what other types of movies he’d like to make.
He said he wanted to direct a film—either musical or drama--that would spotlight a broad representation of his culture.
Now, nearly 10 years later Chu has done just that with his latest movie, “Crazy Rich Asians,”
which is based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel of the same name.
“Crazy Rich Asians” is a Hollywood gamechanger and comes at a perfect time as the industry scrambles to produce more diverse movies.
Yet, “Crazy Rich Asians” shouldn’t be applauded simply because it features a terrific and predominately Asian cast. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a pretty, big deal especially because it’s the first real major Hollywood movie to feature an all-Asian cast since 1993’s “The Joy Luck Club” and 2005’s “Memoirs of a Geisha.”
The real reason you’ll want to see “Crazy Rich Asians” is simply because it’s a remarkable and excellent movie.
It’s a contemporary love story about family, money and classism. The balance of drama and comedy which comes courtesy of comedians Ken Jong (TV’s “Bobs Burgers”) and Awkwa-Fina (“Ocean’s Eight”) works to perfection.
The story centers on Constance Wu (TV’s “Fresh Off the Boat”) and Henry Golding (upcoming, “A Simple Favor”). They play young lovers. Rachel Chu (Wu) is New York University professor raised by a single Chinese working class mother (the delightful Tan Kheng Hua, “The Faith of Anna Waters”). Nick comes from a very rich family. He’s made it a point to keep his family’s wealth under wraps and from Rachel.
But when Nick (Golding) flies Rachel home to Singapore--first class of course--for a friend’s wedding and to visit his mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh, TV’s “Star Trek Discovery”), Rachel realizes Nick’s family is more than just comfortable. They’re filthy rich.
Rachel and Eleanor’s first meeting is far from love at first sight. And the more they talk, it appears the less likely Rachel will ever have a shot at being accepted into the family.
She tries mightily, along with the assistance of her fashionista college buddy, Peik Lin (a scene-stealing Awkwafina, “Oceans Eight”).
The Young’s have all sort of wacky family members and friends. When word gets out that the lowly Rachel has Nick completely sprung and will soon be his lovely wife, a few mean girls at the wedding go to great lengths to humiliate Rachel.
But over time, Rachel develops some spine and stands up to Eleanor. However, her actions do come with a price. It sets them on a collision course with the entire family. What’s worse is Rachel and Nick must now choose between love, money and happiness.
Although you can probably guess which one prevails in the end, “Crazy Rich Asians” takes you on a joyful and colorful ride filled with cultural delights of breathtaking views of Singapore and food so mouthwatering you can almost taste it.
I initially though this movie would be a silly slapstick sort of comedy. It’s not. It’s so much more. It’s wonderful and I really loved every minute of it.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:40 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.
Watch This Trailer For "CRAZY RICH ASIANS"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.