The Singapore Tourism Board won’t need much of an advertising budget for the foreseeable future, as Crazy Rich Asians is certain do their job for them.
The scenery featured is stunning – from the “supertrees” of Gardens by the Bay to the amazing Marina Bay Sands Hotel and beyond to the food – all that food! But, of course, this isn’t a travel write-up.
Crazy Rich Asians, based on the mega-successful novel by Kevin Kwan, breathes life back into the romcom in spectacular style. With welcome overtones of the golden era screwball comedies, it bounces around lightheartedly before dipping its toes further and further into dramatic territory – but it never loses its balance.
We start off in New York, where city native Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) hooks up with her boyfriend of some 12 months Nick Young (Henry Golding), who convinces her to come with him to Singapore for his best mate’s wedding, and to meet his relations. What he’s failed to mention to Rachel so far is that his family is one of the richest in Asia, and that he’s one of the continent’s most eligible bachelors. No pressure, Rach!
Beyond the stunning eye candy – environmental, physical, edible – is some superb casting. This is the first predominantly Asian-American Hollywood cast since The Joy Luck Club, and that was 25 years ago. Wu is both a strong role model and pleasingly relatable, while Michelle Yeoh has graduated to playing a parental role – and is perfect as Nick’s hard-as-nails, force of nature mum. The standout, however, is Awkwafina, stealing every scene that she’s in masterfully, often diffusing things with comedy when they’re getting a bit too dramatic – and even making Ken Jeong’s appearances seem somewhat understated.
At it’s simplest, Crazy Rich Asians is the well-worn story of a very protective mother not approving of her son’s chosen partner. But it isn’t just that basic. While telling its tale, the film delves into the differences in how Asian-Americans and native Asians both see the world and live in it – significant issues for many who don’t usually find representation in mainstream movies.
We have to mention a Mandarin cover of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ that features during one of the key scenes. As it dawned what the song was it came as quite a shock considering, well, history, but soon it was hard to imagine the scene without it. Respect to director John M. Chu – who wished to feature the track as a way of reclaiming the negative connotations of its title – for going the extra mile to convince Chris Martin and cohorts to approve its use.
Ultimately, if you dig super-fun romcoms then you don’t have to be rich or Asian to love this one. But you would be crazy to miss it.
Now, we’re off to book a Singapore getaway…
In cinemas: August 30, 2018
Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh
Directed by: Jon M. Chu