Synopsis: American-born Chinese professor travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family. She’s recently learned that they are crazy rich — will they welcome her or not?
Crazy Rich Asians is the story of Rachel, a New York University economics professor from a modest background, her boyfriend, Nick, also a professor, and his group of friends and family who are hella loaded Singaporeans. Rachel only learns about Nick’s wealth when he whisks her off to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. Flying first class, she asks if he’s rich. He allows that his family is ‘comfortable.’ She knows that is how a wealthy person would demur.
The movie is brimming with real estate porn, haute couture, stupendous jewelry, fancy cars and all manner of luxuries to keep your eyes popping. The leads, Rachel (Constance Wu) and Nick (Henry Golding), are an attractive and charming couple, in a solid relationship. In another kind of movie we would be suspicious of Nick because he is so damned perfect; smart, handsome and kind. All he wants is to make everybody happy and worship his girlfriend. His friends and family have their own ideas about who Nick should be with– especially his mom, Eleanor. She’s played by Michelle Yeoh, so expect her to have an iron will. Fortunately, she doesn’t dispatch her rival with martial arts like she did in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
I think I’ll offer a fresh perspective on this delightful rom-com from a fellow movie lover…
“Hey, movie fans. I saw Crazy Rich Asians on opening weekend. (Just started working at this theater last month. One of the perks is free movies and leftover churros at the end of the night!)
First of all, although I know there are plenty of billionaires in China (338 vs 680 in the US), I didn’t know that Singapore had a fair number of billionaires for such a small country (23 billionaires among 5.6 million denizens). When I think of billionaires, Bill Gates comes to mind. Or Beyonce. Bill Gates and his wife Melinda seem very serious about eradicating diseases around the globe through their foundation. But they aren’t fashionable rich people. The crazy rich peeps in this movie dress and show-off more like Miss Bey. Thankfully, she reportedly makes donations to homeless causes, among others. She also designed a purse for an auction benefitting a women’s fund. I bet it was a nice purse. (There’s a purse that I want at H&M. If I have money leftover after I pay my share of utilities, I’ll get it. Unless my research indicates it was made with child labor.)
Nick’s friends only seem interested in conspicuous consumption at a stratospheric level. Maybe they donate to some charities to alleviate the hunger of the 20,000 plus kids who are malnourished in their country (according to One Singapore, 2008). But the movie isn’t about unglamorous kids.
So, yes, there are apparently some really rich people in Singapore by the looks of the movie. Rachel can’t believe what she’s seeing either. Nick zips her around the city in a luxe sports car. (Beats taking the bus, ha ha.) His best friend, Colin, is affable and so is his bride-to-be. They all go out for street food and Nick looks gorgeous all the while even though everyone else is sweating like crazy because Singapore is like a year round sauna.
All of Nick’s other male friends and relatives are complete a-holes. One rich cousin who is all about status treats his wife like trash because she can’t manage to get the family on the cover of Vogue. A groomsman throws an obscenely lavish party on a barge replete with sonic boom loud music and scores of bikini’d women as party props. The guy is rude and crass but because Nick is such a nice guy, he just chuckles at his “antics.” Another ‘friend’ ridicules Rachel to Nick because she has small breasts. These people are good reasons for Nick to have moved to NYC.
Meanwhile, Rachel has her own problems with mean girls who covet Nick. She does have one ally, Nick’s cousin Astrid (Gemma Chan). Astrid has money problems; her husband feels emasculated by her wealth. Poor Astrid valiantly hides her purchases, including a pair of earrings composed of jewels as big as duck eggs. (My most valuable possession is my smartphone. If I lost that, I’d throw up. I don’t have much disposable income because I inherited a ferret from a former roommate and “Rookie” has an adrenal disease and the medicinal injections are not cheap. She also requires complete darkness at night which precludes me from using light-emitting devices. I tried using my cell phone under the covers, but Rookie burrowed under the sheets and attacked my phone. I do not have Crazy Rich Asian problems.)
While in Singapore, Rachel visits a college friend who is, you guessed it, filthy rich. She gives some insider info and advice on Nick’s family. The friend is played by Awkwafina and her character is exactly as annoying and one-dimensional as her character in Ocean’s Eight. But not as annoying as Ken Jeong as her dad. He behaves like the most obnoxious boy you knew in middle school. (If everyone in Singapore is so rich, maybe I should try to migrate there, ha ha. But then I learned that most foreigners have poor paying jobs in construction, at factories or in domestic service. I guess this explains why Nick and his compatriots have hordes of servants.)
Anyway, the Singaporeans seem to be under a lot of stress from having so much money. But no matter how much money they spend, they are still filthy rich.
Rachel does not have rich people problems. She is an independent, educated, self-made woman. Nick’s mom does not approve. Although intelligent, Nick is also a dunce because he doesn’t notice that half of his sh&*ty friends and his mom consider Rachel beneath them. (Fortunately, I don’t encounter too much snobbery here at the cineplex. And I meet all sorts of people. Last week a new guy started and he’s a teacher during the day. I guess it’s good to know I can keep working here after I finish higher education.)
If I’m having a bad day, Crazy Rich Asians comes across as capitalist propaganda. Still, I can’t resist Nick’s friend’s big wedding scene. The ceremony space is awash in extravagant splendor, the men look polished and handsome and the gorgeous women are practically afloat in diaphanous gowns with only their jewels to anchor them. The whole movie is really pretty, including Nick and Rachel. And it showed how people all over the world are the same: the filthy rich atop the downtrodden…oops, I mean: how no matter where you live, true love can overcome any obstacle. Even your true love’s disapproving mother.”
Thank you for the review! Yes, the rich people were sort of grotesque, but I think our interest in seeing all of their stuff was supposed to overcome our disgust. And Rachel and Nick were super cute together. I bet they couldn’t wait to get back to their “normal” bougee life back in NYC. Actually…the more I think about what you wrote, the more I am convinced that this movie is political commentary on the subjugation of the 99% and not a straightforward rom com. Or not…
MovieLoon.Blog Movie Overview:
Cut to the Chase: Refreshing addition to the rom-com galaxy
Comedy Highlight: Nick trying to pretend he’s not crazy rich