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Crazy Rich Asians

*Crazy* rich Asians or *Crazy-rich* Asians, this is a cultural take on the romantic comedy that mostly works. Rachel (Constance Wu) is an economics professor of game theory. She is dating Nick Young (Henry Golding), a very handsome bachelor whose family is insanely rich, a small detail Nick fails to tell Rachel until she gets on a plane to accompany him to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. During her time in Singapore, she must learn to deal with her boyfriend’s family’s excessive wealth and Nick’s very disapproving mother (played by Michelle Yeoh). The movie is an odd mix of over-the-top extravagance, Bollywood-like romance, and Asian and Asian-American culture critique. The film pokes fun at Asian stereotypes while lampooning the world of the uber-rich and famous. The acting seemed rather stilted and sometimes bizarre until I realized that this was probably intentional (at least I hope this was the case), and then it became part of the film’s quirkiness. Some of the film’s humor got lost on me, but when it was funny, it was really funny, such as the scenes with Awkwafina, who played Rachel’s best friend from college. She and her family bring some much-needed hilarity to the film. The plotlines that critique cultural expectations of parents and children and perceptions of children raised in Asia versus Asians raised in America worked pretty well. I watched this with my friend Gladys, and both of us left enjoying many parts of the movie but not really understanding all the hype. Thumbs up for a film that, in spite of the unevenness in the acting and the over-the-top extravagance (who actually throws weddings like this?), has a lot to say about Asian culture (those not of Asian descent may learn something about it), and is significant in that it is the first movie in a long time about Asians, directed by an Asian, and starring an all-Asian cast.

About Gary Burkholder

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