Crazy about “Crazy Rich Asians”

Romantic comedy stands out by showcasing Asian ethnicities

“Crazy Rich Asians” may not represent all Asians, but the film created opportunities and awareness for the Asian community as a whole.

The amazing Jon M. Chu directs an outstanding film, based on Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel. You may already know Chu, who directed “Step Up 2,” “G.I. Joe Retaliation,” “Now You See Me 2,” and many other world favorites.

The plot is based on a Rom Com but with a twist of strategy, sacrifice, and lavish expectations.

Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is a Chinese American economics professor at NYU, but she doesn’t know that her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), is the son of Singapore’s wealthiest and oldest family.

The couple travels to Singapore for Araminta’s (Sonoya Mizuno’s) wedding and to meet Nick’s mother. Rachel visits her hilarious college friend Peik Lin (Awkwafina), and that’s when she’s told that her boyfriend is “the Nick Young” of Singapore.

After meeting Nick’s mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yoh), Rachel senses that Eleanor doesn’t approve of their relationship.

Throughout her stay, she is reminded of how she is different and that her Chinese American ways aren’t good enough for being in the Young family. Rachel fights this battle with her heart in the right place, wanting only happiness for the man she loves. 

Many viewers disliked “Crazy Rich Asians” because the main focus was on Chinese people in Singapore and it lacked the diversity of Asian experience. I do agree that there weren’t many other ethnic minorities in the story but the cast was filled with them, starting with the actress Constance Wu (Taiwanese-American), and Michelle Yeoh (Malaysian), Sonoya Mizuno (Japanese), Harry Shum Jr (Costa Rican), Nico Santos (Filipino) and so on.

The reason this film is special is because it shows that all Asians, not just Chinese, are capable of being more than just a side character not only in the film industry but to the world.

I am a Hmong American so I didn’t have the same experiences as the crazy rich characters, but I related with Rachel because I too am “a banana, yellow on the outside, white in the inside.” In the film when Rachel is shopping for a dress to meet Nick’s family, her mother tells her that even though she is Chinese she is different and is later told by Eleanor that she is an outsider.

The feeling of being Asian but not acting the way people define Asian is difficult. It makes you question if something is wrong with you. I didn’t have glamorous clothes growing up or real estate worth thousands of dollars but I still support the film because there is a grander meaning for Asian ethnicities.

Not only does this film open opportunities for Asian ethnicities but it also spreads awareness of what we Asians experience in the world, among our family, and within ourselves.

For example, in the beginning of the film when Eleanor is checking in to the hotel, she is disrespected by the white American men and told to look for a hotel in “China Town.” They laugh at Eleanor and her family until they discover that she is the new owner of the hotel.

Similarly, many people generalize Asians and expect the validation of the stereotypes never giving us a real chance to be seen as individuals or members of different ethnicities/subcultures.

As for the family and inner expectations, we are enforced with strict discipline to achieve a certain status. Of course, all parents only want what is best for their children but many Asian children don’t have the freedom to pursue their personal dreams and enjoy life like others.

For example, when Eleanor first meets Rachel she mentions that Rachel has a very American way of thinking because Rachel was raised to follow her dreams and do what she loves, unlike Eleanor who raised Nick to do what she says because she knows best.

This also relates to how we have these automatic expectations for ourselves to be the perfect son or daughter. We struggle with pursuing our dreams because we don’t want to disappoint our parents.

On the other hand, the cinematics of the film were beautiful. You definitely get the crazy rich Asian vibes from the soundtracks, colorful palette, and extraordinary costume designs. Right away in the film we are opened with “Waiting for Your Return,” an arranged western jazz orchestral composition sung by Jasmine Chen. It captured my attention as soon as it started playing leaving me eager to see what was coming next.

Throughout the film there is a colorful oriental palette from scene to scene showing red, blue, and silver in the Singapore city. In addition there is also the “crazy rich” gold, flashy and extreme aspects like Peik Lin’s home that was slightly inspired by “Donald Trump’s bathroom.”

The “crazy rich” aspect is also strongly shown in the costume designs from everything in between Rachel’s “chic ’70s goddess” look to Araminta’s wedding gown. There is a traditional elegance perfectly shown by Eleanor and a simplistic sophisticated look shown by Astrid (Gemma Chan), but nothing screams “crazy rich” more than a wedding dress covered of gold Swarovski crystals.

“Crazy Rich Asians” was a lovely film and I would highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys a humorous, romantic, unique film.