Crazy Rich Asians (film)

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Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jon M. Chu
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Crazy Rich Asians
by Kevin Kwan
Starring
Music by Brian Tyler
Cinematography Vanja Cernjul
Edited by Myron Kerstein
Production
company
  • SK Global Entertainment
  • Starlight Culture Entertainment
  • Color Force
  • Ivanhoe Pictures
  • Electric Somewhere
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • August 7, 2018 (2018-08-07) (TCL Chinese Theatre)
  • August 15, 2018 (2018-08-15) (United States)
Running time
120 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[2]
Box office $236 million[2]

Crazy Rich Asians is a 2018 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Jon M. Chu, from a screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan. The film stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Nico Santos, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, and Michelle Yeoh, and follows an American professor who travels to meet her boyfriend's family and is surprised to discover they are among the richest in Singapore.

The film was announced in August 2013 after the rights to the book were purchased. Much of the cast signed on in the spring of 2017, and filming took place from April to June of that year in parts of Malaysia and Singapore.

Crazy Rich Asians premiered on August 7, 2018 at the TCL Chinese Theatre, and was released theatrically in the United States on August 15, 2018, by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise for its performances, screenplay, and the production and costume design. It is the first film by a major Hollywood studio to feature a majority Asian American cast in a modern setting since The Joy Luck Club in 1993.[3] As of October 2018, the film had grossed $236 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade.[4] A sequel is in development.

Plot

In 1995, Eleanor Young, her son, sister in law, and niece arrive at a London hotel with a reservation, only to be told condescendingly by the receptionist the room she booked is not available. Eleanor and family are turned away and she is forced to call her husband using a public telephone. When she returns to the hotel, the owner warmly greets her and introduces her to the staff as the new owner of the hotel.

In the present, Rachel Chu, an economics professor at New York University (NYU) in New York City, plays poker with a teaching assistant to demonstrate to her game theory class that, in games involving both psychology and choice, "[t]he key is playing to win, instead of trying not to lose.”

Rachel accepts an invitation from her boyfriend Nick Young to accompany him to Singapore for his best friend Colin's wedding. She is shocked when Nick arranges a first class suite for the flight; he claims that his family is "comfortable."

Upon arriving at Singapore Changi Airport, they are greeted by Colin and his fiancée Araminta, and the two couples have dinner together at a hawker centre. The next day Rachel visits her friend Peik Lin, a friend from college, & her family. Peik Lin and her family are shocked when Rachel tells them that she is dating Nick Young and that she is going to Colin's wedding. Peik Lin explains the fanfare surrounding Colin's upcoming wedding and the history of Nick's family fortune. Peik Lin warns Rachel that Nick's high society family and friends will be overly critical of her. Rachel dismisses Peik Lin's warning. Peik Lin provides Rachel with an appropriate outfit for the dinner party at Nick's family home. Later, Nick invites Peik Lin to join the party and Rachel makes several faux pas. Rachel also realizes that Nick's mother, Eleanor, dislikes her, but seems to make a good impression on Nick's grandmother, Su Yi.

Rachel attends Araminta's bachelorette party, while Nick attends Colin's bachelor party. A woman named Amanda deliberately undermines Rachel before revealing that she had previously dated Nick. Amanda sends out a text to signal others to vandalize Rachel's room with a gutted fish on her bed and lipstick graffiti, calling Rachel a "gold digging bitch". Nick's cousin Astrid comforts Rachel, admitting that her life is not perfect either, as her husband Michael is having an affair. Nick tells Colin he plans to propose to Rachel. Colin is concerned that Nick's family's disapproval and the couple's cultural differences will be insurmountable.

The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Malaysia, as seen in November 2010, served as a mahjong parlour for the film.

After Rachel vents to Nick about her unpleasantries at the bachelorette party, he apologizes to her for concealing his wealth and takes her to make dumplings by hand with his family. Rachel admires Eleanor's distinctive engagement ring; Eleanor details the sacrifices she made to be a part of the Young family. She later tells Rachel that Nick's grandmother disapproved of Eleanor, and Rachel will never be good enough for Nick. Rachel considers leaving but Peik Lin convinces her to stand up to Eleanor, giving Rachel a glamorous makeover before the wedding. On the way to the wedding Michael states that he's canceling an event with their son to go out of town. Stunned, Astrid confronts Michael about his affair. Michael blames his unhappines on Astrid and her family, he then leaves Astrid alone in the car. Astrid arrives at the wedding with her grandmother Su Yi.

At the wedding, Rachel displays a remarkable degree of social grace, which earns her the admiration of many people. She even manages to befriend Princess Intan, who is normally cold and reserved. However, at the reception, Eleanor and Su Yi privately reveal that Rachel was conceived through an adulterous affair, after which Rachel's mother, Kerry, abandoned her husband and fled to America. Rachel is stunned, as her mother had said her father was dead. Eleanor and Su Yi demand that Nick stop seeing Rachel for fear of scandal. Rachel runs away in tears, and Nick chases after her, even though his grandmother threatens to disown him. Rachel becomes depressed and is surprised to discover that Kerry has arrived in Singapore to visit her. Kerry explains that her husband was abusive and that she became pregnant from an old classmate who was trying to comfort her, later fleeing for fear of her husband. Nick had arranged her visit, and Kerry urges Rachel to reconcile with him. Nick proposes to her.

Rachel meets Eleanor at a Mahjong parlour and explains that she declined Nick's proposal in order to prevent the ruin of Nick's relationship with his family. She tells Eleanor that one day, Eleanor will look back and realize that she is in Rachel's debt. Rachel intentionally loses the hand to Eleanor, symbolizing her sacrifice, and walks away with Kerry. The two board an economy-class flight back to the United States. However, Nick arrives and proposes with Eleanor's ring, revealing Eleanor's blessing. Rachel accepts and they stay in Singapore an extra day for an engagement party, during which Eleanor reveals her grudging respect for Rachel. In a mid-credit scene, Astrid exchanges glances with her ex-fiance, Charlie Wu.

Cast

Constance Wu (left) and Henry Golding (right) play the lead characters Rachel Chu and Nick Young in the film.
  • Constance Wu as Rachel Chu,[5] Nick’s girlfriend and Kerry’s daughter
  • Henry Golding as Nicholas "Nick" Young, Rachel's boyfriend and Phillip and Eleanor's son[6][7]
  • Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor Sung-Young, Nick's domineering mother and Phillip's wife[8]
  • Gemma Chan as Astrid Leong-Teo, Nick's cousin and Michael's wife[9]
  • Lisa Lu as Shang Su Yi, Nick's grandmother and the matriarch of the family
  • Awkwafina as Goh Peik Lin, Rachel's charismatic confidant of a Singaporean college best friend and Wye Mun's daughter[10]
  • Ken Jeong as Goh Wye Mun, Peik Lin's wealthy father[11]
  • Sonoya Mizuno as Araminta Lee, Colin's fiancée[12]
  • Chris Pang as Colin Khoo, Nick's childhood best friend and Araminta's fiancé[13]
  • Jimmy O. Yang as Bernard Tai, Carol's son and Nick and Colin's former classmate[14]
  • Ronny Chieng as Eddie Cheng, Nick and Astrid's cousin and Fiona's husband[14]
  • Remy Hii as Alistair Cheng, Eddie's brother and Nick and Astrid's cousin from Hong Kong
  • Nico Santos as Oliver T'sien, Nick's second cousin
  • Pierre Png as Michael Teo, Astrid's husband
  • Jing Lusi as Amanda "Mandy" Ling, Manhattan socialite and Nick's former girlfriend
  • Fiona Xie as Kitty Pong, Alistair's girlfriend and Taiwan "soap opera" star
  • Carmen Soo as Francesca
  • Constance Lau as Cassandra “Radio One Asia” Shang
  • Victoria Loke as Fiona Tung-Cheng, Eddie's wife from Hong Kong and Nick's cousin-in-law
  • Janice Koh as Felicity Young-Leong, Astrid's mother and Su Yi's eldest child
  • Amy Cheng as Jacqueline Ling, Mandy's heiress mother and Eleanor's friend
  • Koh Chieng Mun as Peik Lin's mother, Neena
  • Tan Kheng Hua as Kerry Chu, Rachel's mother
  • Selena Tan as Alexandra 'Alix' Young-Cheng, Su Yi's youngest child
  • Kris Aquino as Princess Intan, a Malay princess
  • Harry Shum Jr. as Charlie Wu, Astrid’s ex-fiancé

Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan has a cameo appearance during the "Radio One Asia" sequence. Harry Shum Jr. makes a brief appearance as Astrid's ex-fiancé,[15] a handsome man who catches Astrid's eye during the final moments of the film. Kina Grannis makes an appearance during the wedding sequence as the wedding singer.

Production

Pre-production

Kevin Kwan published his comedic novel Crazy Rich Asians on June 11, 2013. One of the first producers to reach out to Kwan was Wendi Deng, who had read an advance copy of the novel provided by Graydon Carter.[16][17] Another of the producers who was initially interested in the project proposed whitewashing the role of heroine Rachel Chu by casting a Caucasian actress,[18] prompting Kwan to option the rights to the film for just US$1 in exchange for a continuing role for creative and development decisions.[16][19] In August 2013, producer Nina Jacobson acquired rights to adapt the novel into a film. Jacobson and her partner Brad Simpson intended to produce under their production banner Color Force, with Bryan Unkeless developing the project. Their initial plan was to produce the film adaptation outside the studio system and to structure financing for development and production from Asia and other territories outside the United States.[20][21] The freedom created by eschewing the typical funding structure would enable an all-Asian cast. Jacobson stated "Getting something in development and even getting some upfront money is an easy way to not ever see your movie get made."[16]

Several scenes feature the Merlion statue at Merlion Park and the triple towers of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

In 2014, the US-based Asian film investment group Ivanhoe Pictures partnered with Jacobson to finance and produce Crazy Rich Asians.[22] John Penotti, president of Ivanhoe, stated "For us, the book fell in our lap kind of like, 'This is why we're doing the company.' Unlike the Hollywood second-guessing, 'Oh my God, will this work? We don't know. It’s all Asian,' it was exactly the opposite for us: 'That's exactly why it will work.'"[16]

Screenwriters Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim were hired to write the screenplay before a director was brought on board.[17] Chiarelli was credited with focusing the plot on the dynamic between Eleanor, Rachel, and Nick. Lim, who was born in Malaysia, added specific cultural details and developed Eleanor's character.[16] Director Jon M. Chu entered negotiations with Color Force and Ivanhoe Pictures in May 2016 to direct the film adaptation.[23] He was hired after giving executives a visual presentation about his experience as a first-generation Asian-American. Chu was actually mentioned obliquely in the source novel as Kwan was friends with Chu's cousin Vivian.[16]

In October 2016, Warner Bros. Pictures acquired the distribution rights to the project after what Variety called a "heated" bidding war.[24] Netflix reportedly fervently sought worldwide rights to the project, offering "artistic freedom, a greenlighted trilogy and huge, seven-figure-minimum paydays for each stakeholder, upfront". However, Kwan and Chu selected Warner Bros. for the cultural impact of a wide theatrical release.[16][17]

Dates are dates, and if those are immovable, I understand. But I would put all of my heart, hope, humor and courage into the role. What this could do means so much to me. It’s why I advocate so much for young Asian-American girls so they might not spend their life feeling small or being commanded to feel grateful to even be at the table.

 — Constance Wu, correspondence to Jon M. Chu (2016)[16]

Although she had initially auditioned for the role of Rachel in mid-2016, Constance Wu could not accept due to a conflict with her work on the television series Fresh Off the Boat. However, Wu wrote to Chu explaining her connection with Rachel's character, and convinced him to push back the production schedule by four months.[16] Production was slated to begin in April 2017 in Singapore and Malaysia.[9][25][26]

Casting

After Wu was chosen to play the lead Rachel Chu,[5] newcomer Henry Golding was cast to play the male lead Nick Young.[6] Michelle Yeoh joined the cast as Eleanor Young, Nick's mother, in March 2017.[27] Rounding out the supporting cast is Gemma Chan as Nick's cousin Astrid Leong and Sonoya Mizuno as Araminta Lee.[12] Wu, Yeoh, and Chan were part of director Chu's "dream casting sheet" before casting was confirmed, along with Ronny Chieng and Jimmy O. Yang.[17] On April 18, 2017, Filipina actress Kris Aquino was cast in a cameo role.[28] On May 12, it was announced that Ken Jeong had joined the cast.[29] Although Jeong had a minor role involving less than a week of filming, he stated "It's just something I wanted to be part of. It's about wanting to be part of something monumental. Something that’s bigger than me. I'm so giddy I'm part of this, I can't even tell you."[16]

Biscuit Films, a production company based in Petaling Jaya that provided support for the film, commissioned casting director Jerrica Lai to provide local talent which included Carmen Soo (as Francesca Shaw, a socialite) and Calvin Wong (Peik Lin's awkward brother).[30]

The film's casting prior to release was met with both praise—in the U.S. for its all-Asian cast—and criticism for its lack of Asian ethnic diversity, based on issues ranging from non-Chinese actors (Golding and Mizuno) playing Chinese roles; the film's ethnic Chinese and East Asian predominance as being poorly representative of Singapore; and as being a perpetuation of existing Chinese dominance in its media and pop culture.[31]

For more discussion on the criticism of casting choices, refer to § Criticism regarding casting.

Photography

Carcosa Seri Negara, the stand-in for the Tyersall Park mansion in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2009).

Principal photography began on April 24, 2017,[32] and completed on June 23.[33] The film was shot at locations in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and Penang, Malaysia, and in Singapore.[34][35] Production design is credited to Nelson Coates.[36]

Producer Tim Coddington contacted Biscuit Films for potential locations in Malaysia similar to photographs he had of mansions in Thailand, and Biscuit convinced him to switch locations to Malaysia, which is culturally more similar to Singapore, where the source novel is set.[30] The ancestral Young family home, set at Tyersall Park in Singapore, was actually filmed at two abandoned mansions that make up Carcosa Seri Negara within the Perdana Botanical Gardens of Kuala Lumpur.[37] Interior scenes were filmed at one building, and the exterior scenes were filmed at another; they had originally been built as residences for the British High Commissioner to Malaya in the early 20th century,[37] and were recently used as a boutique hotel until it closed in 2015.[38] The Carcosa Seri Negara buildings, owned by the Malaysian government, were then abandoned; as found in 2017, they were in disrepair and "filled with monkey feces".[39][40] The set designers were inspired to decorate the interior set in the Peranakan style. Kevin Kwan, who was born in Singapore and lived with his paternal grandparents before moving to the United States, contributed vintage family photographs for the set.[40] The set designers removed carpets, painted the floors to look like tiles, and commissioned local artists to create murals. The stuffed tiger in the foyer was a simulacrum created from foam and fur in Thailand; customs inspectors delayed the shipment because they thought it was an actual taxidermied animal.[39]

A covered area of Newton Food Centre in Singapore.

The opening urban scenes set in London and the West Village were actually shot in Kuala Lumpur and Penang:[40] the Calthorpe Hotel purchased by the Youngs is the E&O Hotel in Penang; the lecture auditorium set at NYU was filmed in Putrajaya; and the restaurant where Nick asks Rachel to travel was filmed at BLVD House, Naza Towers at Platinum Park in Kuala Lumpur.[30] Singapore Airlines was asked to participate in exchange for product placement, but declined as "they were not sure the movie would represent the airline and their customer[s] in a good light", according to producer Brad Simpson, leading to the creation of the fictional Pacific Asean Airlines for the film.[36] After Nick asks Rachel to travel with him to Araminta and Colin's wedding, rumors about his mystery girlfriend soon reach Eleanor at a Bible study session, filmed in the private residence Be-landa House in Kuala Lumpur.[41][42] The luxurious first-class suite on the Pacific Asean flight was a set built at the Malaysia International Exhibition & Convention Centre (MIECC) in Serdang, Selangor.[30] The scenes where Rachel and Nick arrive at Changi Airport and are then whisked away to Newton Food Centre were shot on location.[35][38][43] After settling in, Rachel and Nick stay at a luxury hotel (scenes were shot at the Raffles Hotel) instead of the ancestral Young estate at Tyersall.[35][44] Astrid's character is introduced by showing her shopping for jewelry at an exclusive designer; the shop was created by redecorating the Astor Bar at the St. Regis Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.[39][45] The Goh family lives in an actual residence off Cluny Park in Singapore, although the set decorators were responsible for the excessive gilding and pillars.[38][46]

A beach in Langkawi in Malaysia (2010).

Colin and Nick escape the party barge (the set was built in a parking lot at MIECC, and a container ship was rented for exterior shots)[35][39][30] to relax on Rawa Island (scenes filmed on Langkawi Island),[30][45] and the bachelorette party takes place at the Four Seasons on Langkawi.[43] After Eleanor intimidates Rachel at the dumpling party, she is cheered up by Peik Lin at the restaurant Humpback on Bukit Pasoh Road.[35][38][44] The wedding of Araminta and Colin was shot at the CHIJMES, a former convent in Singapore built in the 19th century.[35][40][43] After the wedding, the reception is held in the Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay.[35][43] Rachel agrees to meet Nick at Merlion Park (this scene also featured locations filmed at Esplanade Park) before she returns to New York.[43][47] Eleanor strides through archways in Ann Siang Hill near Singapore's Chinatown[47] before arriving for the mahjong showdown with Rachel, which was filmed at the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Penang, redecorated for the film as a mahjong parlour.[38][43] A late scene featuring Nick and Rachel was filmed inside a twin-aisle jet parked at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.[48] The film's closing scenes are set at the Marina Bay Sands.[43]

CHIJMES Hall at CHIJMES complex in Singapore at night (2012).

The film was shot by Vanja Černjul using Panasonic VariCam PURE cameras equipped with anamorphic lenses.[49]

Costumes

Costume design was handled by Mary Vogt with Andrea Wong serving as a consultant and senior costume buyer.[50] They used dresses and suits from fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren, Elie Saab, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, and Dior;[51][52] many of the brands were eager to have their clothes shown off in the film.[50] Looks were influenced by other movies cited by director Jon Chu, including The Wizard of Oz, Cinderella, and In the Mood for Love.[51] 30 makeup artists were on set to help the actors, who were filming scenes in conditions of high heat and humidity while wearing formal clothing.[53]

Before traveling to Malaysia and Singapore, Vogt received help from Kwan, who shared vintage family photographs to explain how the old money society in Singapore "was very classy, very elegant",[50][52] contrasting with the new money Goh family, who are "just flinging it around, wanting to show it [off]".[51] Andrea Wong pointed Vogt to designers around Kuala Lumpur, who contributed not only clothes but also insight into local high-society fashions.[50] Kwan, who had worked as a design consultant before writing the novel, relied on people he knew working in the fashion industry to bring in clothes for the film.[50]

The wedding reception is held in Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.

In an early scene, Astrid gives a watch to her husband Michael; it is a "Paul Newman" Rolex Daytona loaned following a request from Kwan for the filming.[53][54][55] Yeoh used her friendships with wealthy Singaporean and Hong Kong tai tais to help shape final wardrobe choices, and loaned pieces from her personal jewelry collection, including the distinctive emerald engagement ring.[48][50][56] Kwan and director Chu insisted that all the pieces worn by the Young family must be real; the orchid brooch worn by Su Yi (Ah Ma) at the wedding and a belt buckle for Eleanor (also originally a brooch, but used to make the dress fit Yeoh) were designed by Michelle Ong and loaned from Carnet.[51][54] Some of the other jewelry pieces, including Astrid's pearl earrings, were loaned from Mouawad, and guards were employed to protect the jewelry,[39][51] which sometimes dictated the filming.[36] The extras who attended the wedding reception were drawn from the Peranakan Association, a historical society, and were asked to wear their own vintage formal clothing to add local flavor to the party.[39][52]

Music

During the production process, Chu and music supervisor Gabe Hilfer assembled a list of hundreds of songs about money, including songs by Kanye West ("Gold Digger"), Hall & Oates ("Rich Girl"), the Notorious B.I.G. ("Mo Money Mo Problems"), Lady Gaga ("Money Honey"), and Barrett Strong ("Money (That's What I Want)").[57][58] Seeking to create a multilingual soundtrack, Chu and Hilfer compiled Chinese songs from the 1950s and 1960s by Ge Lan (Grace Chan) and Yao Lee, as well as contemporary songs, then searched through YouTube videos for singers fluent in Mandarin Chinese to provide cover versions of songs.[57] The film's soundtrack album and score album, by Brian Tyler, were both released on August 10, 2018, through WaterTower Music.[59]

Release

Crazy Rich Asians was released in the United States on August 15, 2018, after previously having been scheduled for August 17.[60] An early screening was held in April 2018 at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, garnering strong emotional reactions from the audience; other advance screenings were held in San Francisco, Washington D.C., and New York City.[17] The film premiered on August 7, 2018, at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.[61] The social media hashtag #GoldOpen was used to bring attention to the film.[62]

The film was released in Singapore on August 22, 2018,[63] and is scheduled for a later release in parts of Europe, although the planned November 2018 U.K. release date was moved forward to September 14, 2018.[64][65] In October 2018, it was announced the film would be released in China on November 30, 2018.[66]

Home media

Crazy Rich Asians was released on digital on November 6, 2018 and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 20, 2018. The Blu-ray Combo Pack special features include commentary by director Jon M. Chu and novelist Kwan, a gag reel, and deleted scenes.[67]

Reception

Box office

As of November 12, 2018, Crazy Rich Asians has grossed $173.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $62.4 million elsewhere, for a worldwide gross of $236 million, against a production budget of $30 million.[2][68] In October 2018, it became the highest-grossing romantic comedy of the last 10 years, and the 6th-highest-grossing ever.[4]

Three weeks before its United States and Canada release, Crazy Rich Asians was projected to gross $18–20 million during its five-day opening weekend.[69] By the week of its release, estimates had reached $26–30 million, with Fandango reporting pre-sale tickets were outpacing Girls Trip (which debuted to $31.2 million in July 2017).[70][71] The film held special advance screenings on August 8, 2018, and made an estimated $450,000–500,000, selling out most of its 354 theaters.[72] It then took in $5 million on its first day and $3.8 million on its second. It went on to gross $26.5 million in its opening weekend, for a five-day total of $35.2 million, finishing first at the box office. 38% of its audience was of Asian descent, which was the highest Asian makeup for a film in U.S. in the previous three years (besting The Foreigner's 18.4% in 2017).[73] In its second weekend the film made $24.8 million, a box office drop of just 6%, which Deadline Hollywood called "unbelievable."[74][75] The film continued to play well in its third weekend, making $22 million (a drop of just 10% from the previous week) and remaining in first.[76] The film was finally dethroned in its fourth weekend, finishing third behind newcomers The Nun and Peppermint with $13.1 million.[77]

Critical response

Michelle Yeoh's performance as Eleanor Sung-Young received widespread critical praise.[78]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 275 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "With a terrific cast and a surfeit of visual razzle dazzle, Crazy Rich Asians takes a satisfying step forward for screen representation while deftly drawing inspiration from the classic—and still effective—rom-com formula."[79] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 74 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[80] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an 85% positive score and a 65% "definite recommend".[73]

Joe Morgenstern, writing for The Wall Street Journal, found the film to be "Bright, buoyant, and hilarious," making special note of the large number of quality performances from the cast members: "And anyone with a sense of movie history will be moved by the marvelous Ms. Yeoh, who was so memorable as the love-starved fighter in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and by 91-year-old Lisa Lu, who plays Nick’s grandmother and the matriarch of his family. Anyone, in this case, means anyone. Crazy Rich Asians includes us all".[81] Ann Hornaday, writing for The Washington Post, deemed the film a "escapist rom-com delight" and remarked that "It will more than satisfy the sweet tooth of romantic comedy fans everywhere who have lately despaired that the frothy, frolicsome genre they adore has been subsumed by raunch and various shades of gray"; she also compared the film's rom-com themes to Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).[82]

Time magazine published an extended cultural review of the film by Karen Ho, which compared the high fashion appeal of the film to rival the best of previous films such as The Devil Wears Prada. Ho summarizes the film's success as a notable uphill battle against the season's predominantly superhero oriented audiences: "To many in Hollywood, Crazy Rich Asians might look like a risky bet. It's the first modern story with an all-Asian cast and an Asian-American lead in 25 years; the last Joy Luck Club, was in 1993. It's an earnest romantic comedy in a sea of action and superhero films...In fact, it seems destined to be a hit."[83] In the same magazine, Stephanie Zacharek called the film as "simply great fun, a winsome romantic comedy and an occasionally over-the-top luxury fantasy that never flags," while at the same time hailing the film as a breakthrough in representation and lauded the performances and chemistry of Wu and Golding as well as the supporting performances (particularly Yeoh, Ken Jeong, Nico Santos and Awkwafina).[84]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film four stars out of five; he called it "frothy fun" and a "hilarious, heartfelt blast" while hailing the film as "making history" in its cultural representation in mainstream cinema and highlighting the performances (particularly Yeoh, whose performance he called "layered").[85] Writing for Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper described the film as a "pure escapist fantasy fun" and "24-karat entertainment" while praising Wu's and Golding's performances and chemistry, and complimented Golding's natural onscreen presence and his good sense of comedic timing.[86] David Sims of The Atlantic lauded the film as a "breath of fresh air" and a "charming throwback" to the classic romantic comedy films while commending Chu's direction, the "hyperactive" screenplay, and the performances of Wu and Yeoh.[87]

Justin Chang in a review for the Los Angeles Times found the film worthy of comparison to other notable films using an Asian ensemble cast including Memoirs of a Geisha, Letters from Iwo Jima, and The Joy Luck Club. Chang found the supporting cast performance of Michelle Yeoh to be exceptional, stating "you can't help but hang on Eleanor's (Michelle Yeoh's) every word. In a crisp, authoritative, sometimes startlingly vulnerable performance that never lapses into dragon-lady stereotype, Yeoh brilliantly articulates the unique relationship between Asian parents and their children, the intricate chain of love, guilt, devotion and sacrifice that binds them for eternity".[78]

In his review for The New York Times, A. O. Scott indicates that the film's appeal surpasses contemporary social mores dealing with wealth and touches on themes examined in the literature of "endless luxury" over the centuries stating that this is "...part of the film’s sly and appealing old-fashionedness. Without betraying any overt nostalgia, Crazy Rich Asians casts a fond eye backward as well as Eastward, conjuring a world defined by hierarchies and prescribed roles in a way that evokes classic novels and films. Its keenest romantic impulse has less to do with Nick and Rachel’s rather pedestrian love story than with the allure of endless luxury and dynastic authority. Which I guess is pretty modern after all".[88] Peter Debruge of Variety wrote that the movie "expertly manages to balance the opulence of incalculable wealth with the pragmatic, well-grounded sensibility" of its protagonist; he also drew comparisons of the film's visual style and tone to Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby (2013) as well to the wedding sequence in Mamma Mia! (2008).[89] Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph gave the film four stars out of five, and wrote that the film was "a mouthwatering slice of deluxe romcom escapism" and "plays like a Jane Austen novel crossed with a Mr. & Mrs. Smith brochure" while lending his praise on the performances of Wu, Golding, Yeoh, and Awkwafina.[90]

Scott Mendelson, writing for Forbes, found the film to be below average and to have an uneven plot line with contrived humor similar to his opinion of the 2002 film My Big Fat Greek Wedding stating: "Without having read the book, I might argue that the core flaw of Crazy Rich Asians is that it’s so determined to be the Asian-American version of the conventional Hollywood romantic comedy that it becomes a deeply conventional romantic comedy, complete with the bad, the good and the generic tropes. It’s well-acted and offers plenty of cultural specificity, but the supporting characters are thin and the need to be universal hobbles its drama".[91] He was joined in his criticism by Kate Taylor of The Globe and Mail, who wrote: "As the obscenities of wealth accumulate while a large cast of Asian and Eurasian actors render their many silly characters, the source of the laughter becomes troubling."[92] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter gave a mixed review, in which he criticized the film's pacing as "uneven" but nevertheless similarly praised the performances and chemistry of Wu and Golding, and singled out Wu's performance as the film's real heart.[93]

Accolades

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result Ref.
People's Choice Awards November 11, 2018 The Comedy Movie of 2018 Crazy Rich Asians Nominated [94][95]
The Comedy Movie Star of 2018 Awkwafina Shortlisted
Constance Wu Shortlisted

Criticism regarding casting

Although the film received praise in the United States for its casting, which made "history for Asian American representation",[96] it was criticized elsewhere for not exclusively using actors of Chinese descent in ethnically Chinese roles.[97] The film was also criticized for using British and American English over Singaporean English.[98][99] In addition, the film has received criticism for poorly representing the actual makeup of Singapore by virtually erasing non-Chinese citizens.[100][101]

Lead actors

The casting of biracial actor Henry Golding, who is of Malaysian Iban and English descent, as the Chinese Singaporean character Nick Young was highly controversial, drawing accusations of colorism. The casting of Sonoya Mizuno, a multiracial actress of Japanese, Argentinian and English ancestry, as Araminta Lee, another Singaporean Chinese character, also attracted criticism. Korean American actress Jamie Chung, who had auditioned for a role but was turned down allegedly for not being "ethnically Chinese", responded to a question about Golding's casting with "That is some bullshit. Where do you draw the line to be ethnically conscious? But there's so many loopholes..." in an interview published on April 24, 2017.[102] Chung's remarks were met with backlash on social media, with some accusing her of being bigoted against Eurasians, while another felt her comments were hypocritical as she had previously played Mulan, an ethnic Chinese character, in the television series Once Upon a Time.[103] Chung apologized to Golding for her comments.[104][105]

Golding initially called the criticism towards his casting "quite hurtful",[106] but was later more open towards criticism as he felt that there "should be a conversation about it",[107] while Mizuno said that the criticism towards her casting "pissed [her] off".[108] Several of Golding's costars also defended his casting, with Ronny Chieng declaring that Golding was "more Malaysian than most Malaysians"[109] while Awkwafina jokingly stated it would have been bad only if the producers had cast Emma Stone as Nick, referring to the 2015 film Aloha.[110]

Sociologist and the author of Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism, Nancy Wang Yuen, defended Golding's casting, surmising that criticism was fueled out of racial purity. By deeming Golding "not Asian enough", detractors were choosing to ignore his Asian heritage. Yuen contrasted Golding's situation to the public perception of former U.S. President Barack Obama, who is also biracial. She noted how "the world sees President Obama as black, but his mother is white" and called out the double standard in "[erasing] Golding's Asian ancestry while obliterating Obama's white ancestry."[111]

The casting of Nick Young, Golding's eventual role, had been initially challenging for the filmmakers, as director Jon M. Chu was reportedly unsatisfied with the preliminary finalists from Los Angeles and China, as he felt that none of the actors could properly replicate the British accent Nick was described as having from the original book.[17] After receiving a tip from his accountant Lisa-Kim Kuan,[112] Chu began actively pursuing Golding for the role of Nick, who he felt had the proper accent and look for the character.[113] Chu has since defended his decision to cast Golding and later acknowledged:

John Lui, an ethnic Chinese Singaporean reporter for The Straits Times, criticized the casting, opining that a single drop of Asian blood was enough for Hollywood, who was motivated to cast Golding (an "ethnically ambiguous face") because of his appeal to a wide variety of audiences. Lui tempered his criticism, stating "it is wrong to sort actors into 'Asian' and 'not Asian enough' piles".[97]

Representation

In contrast to those asking for Chinese or East Asian actors to fill its roles, others, particularly those in Asian countries, expressed disappointment in the film's lack of ethnic South and Southeast Asians, who are prominent in Singapore.[114][115] Kirsten Han, a Singaporean freelance writer, said that it "obscur[ed] the Malay, Indian, and Eurasian (and more) populations who make the country the culturally rich and unique place that it is."[116] Many were critical towards the omission of the country's Malays and Indians—the second and third largest ethnic groups in Singapore, respectively—thus not representing its multiracial population accurately.[117]

Ian Chong, a political scientist at the National University of Singapore, noted "It represents the worst of Singapore. Erases minorities. Erases the poor and marginalized. All you get are rich, privileged ethnic Chinese."[115] Alfian Sa'at, a Malay Singaporean poet and playwright, commented on the film's title, referring to it as "Crazy Rich EAST Asians", and adding "Does a win for representation mean replacing white people with white people wannabes[?]"[117] Multiple critics also criticized the comedic scene in which Rachel Chu and Peik Lin were frightened by Gurkha guards, noting that "the presentation of brown men as scary predators is played for laughs,"[118] is "blind to racial politics in Singapore,"[119] and presented a "buffoonish performance [that is] as excruciating as Mickey Rooney's as the Japanese photographer living above Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's."[100] Referring to Kwan's book, one commenter noted "The book is aware of its lack of minority representation [and] actually alludes to the closed minded attitude of some social circles in Singapore. One of the family members got disowned for marrying a Malay."[117]

Sequel

Director Jon M. Chu said he would be eager to direct a sequel if the first film was a success, stating, "We have other stories outside of the Crazy Rich Asians world that are ready to be told too, from filmmakers and storytellers who haven't had their stories told yet."[61]

On August 22, 2018, following the film's strong opening, Warner Bros. Pictures confirmed a sequel was in development, with Chiarelli and Lim returning to write the script, based on the book's sequel, China Rich Girlfriend. Chu and actors Wu, Golding, and Yeoh all have options for a sequel,[83][120] although several of the key actors are committed to other projects until 2020.[121]

See also

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