This Crazy Rich Asians review has minor spoilers.
Crazy Rich Asians is a romantic comedy with a familiar premise – a wedding date meets the family and hijinks ensue. Everything else about the film separates it from your typical romcom. Obscene wealth, the makeup of its cast, and the city of Singapore dazzle throughout the movie. Despite these intriguing qualities, the film is light on comedy and a disappointment.
Crazy Rich Asians is the first major Hollwood movie with a predominantly Asian cast since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club. The movie is based on a trilogy of books by Kevin Kwan. The film follows Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an NYU professor who flies to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) for a wedding.
Nick is using the affair to introduce Rachel to his family. Unbeknownst to Rachel, Nick’s family are wealthy elites in Singapore’s high society. Important members of Nick’s family disapprove of Rachel. Despite her best efforts, Rachel struggles as they reject her intrusion into their insulated community.
Rachel Cho is a departure from Constance Wu’s character on the ABC sitcom Fresh Off The Boat. In that series Wu plays Jessica Huang, an unapologetically brash mother. Wu adapted well to the big screen. Wu, Golding, and Michelle Yeoh (Nick’s Mom) all made the story compelling.
Unfortunately, the humor of Wu’s sitcom is not in the film. The movie is oversold as a comedy. It leaned heavily on romance and lavish setting. There are large chunks of the film where humor is not present in the dialogue.
Multiple scenes from the Crazy Rich Asians trailer are missing from the final cut of the movie. Had some of those lines made it into the film (i.e. “more of a Harry”), it would have given the flick a much-needed comedy boost.
Most of the comedy is reserved for cast members Ken Jeong, Awkwafina, and Jimmy O. Yang. All play secondary characters who surround the chaotic wedding. While they are all funny, only Awkwafina’s contribution as Rachel’s friend makes a lasting impression.
Crazy Rich Asians has a few whacky scenes. An outrageous bachelor party in international waters is the zaniest part of the ensemble’s time together. Despite the movie crew’s efforts to convert a container ship to a bachelor destination, there is nothing memorable about the scene.
That shortfall defines the movie. Crazy Rich Asians spends a lot of time dropping its audience in Young family extravagance, but comes up short on creating an enjoyable connection with the audience. Nick’s cousin Astrid (Gemma Chang) and a scene involving dumplings are the only standout aspects of the film beyond the main cast.
The exotic scenery and fortune maintain a flashy style, but Crazy Rich Asians is not as funny as it could have been. Humor and a greater connection with the family would have improved the movie’s story. Since some jokes present in the trailer are not in the film, a director’s cut of the movie might be a better version.
Crazy Rich Asians has performed well in the box office so far. This success and Kwan’s book series make the possibility of a sequel likely. A trilogy of movies does not seem far-fetched. The film may make a future movie a bit of a box office letdown. Sprinkling in more humor would have gone a long way towards making this unique story a summer comedy that the trailer alluded to and created a greater demand for another movie.