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'Crazy Rich Asians' Review

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September 6, 2018
Hunter Friesen
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Rachel Chu and Nick Young have been together for over a year now and couldn’t be happier. Both of them are professors at NYU, which is how they first met. One day, Nick asks Rachel to come with him to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding, with the added bonus of meeting his family. 

Thinking she knows everything about Nick, Rachel agrees to go on the trip. Except there’s one thing she doesn’t know: Nick’s family is rich, “crazy rich” in fact. Caught off guard by this, Rachel is unknowingly thrust into a new world of luxury and spectacle, one that is a far cry from her modest upbringing. Despite the challenge, she’s determined to be at Nick’s side and to make a good first impression on his family.

Directed by Hollywood journeyman Jon M. Chu, the film’s biggest problems mostly all stem from his lackluster directing. Chu doesn’t bring any originality to the finished project and mainly just uses every rom-com cliché in the book, such as the tough parental figure, comedic sidekick, wacky relatives, and will-they-or-won’t-they plotline between the two leads. 

Chu also struggles to provide a sense of balance in terms of pacing and plots. The pacing is inconsistent throughout. The beginning of the film quickly shifts from scene to scene as we set up the story and characters. After that things slow way down and we tediously crawl to the end. 

Apart from the main plot, there is also a subplot featuring Nick’s cousin, Astrid. While she’s a good character overall, her story is very unnecessary and continually gets dropped and picked back up at odd times. On a bright note, Chu does impeccable work during the wedding sequence. It’s easily the most heart-tugging part of the film as the two main characters share a loving connection. 

Writers Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim do a fair job of adapting from the original bestselling novel. They do a great job at making the lead character very likable and relatable. Rachel isn’t your average rom-com woman whose life is in shambles until she meets a guy. It’s refreshing to see a lead female character have her life together and not have to rely on some guy in order to be happy. 

The screenplay also fits in a good amount of quality jokes, a lot of which come from Awkwafina’s character. Unfortunately, just like the directing, the biggest problem is the overabundance of clichés. It’s a shame for a screenplay to have such a great lead character and then repeatedly bury her with the same old tropes we’ve seen time and time again.

Because of the large cast of characters, the film boasts both good and bad performances. Constance Wu does a great job as Rachel Chu. She makes herself relatable and confidently holds her own throughout. She also shares electric chemistry with both Golding and Awkwafina. 

Opposite Wu is Henry Golding as Nick Young. Golding does very well, especially when considering that this is his acting debut. He’s at his best when with his on-screen partner and adds a lot of charm to his role. 

Having already done great work in this year’s Ocean’s Eight, Awkwafina gives another hilarious supporting performance here. Playing Rachel’s roommate from college, she constantly delivers the best jokes, with most of them coming off as improvised. 

Some minor supporting actors suffer from Chu’s poor directing and have to resort to overacting in order for us to like them. The biggest losers from this are Ken Jeong and Jimmy O. Yang. Their characters are way too over the top and are annoying as soon as we meet them.

Crazy Rich Asians is a film that mostly suffers from poor directing and a formulaic story that lacks any sort of originality. Still, it's better than most modern romantic comedies and the reliable trio of Wu, Golding, and Awkwafina make this film a moderately enjoyable ride.

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