Spoiler alert! I don’t go to the movies often and when I do, I always research the one I’m interested in to make sure my time is not wasted. The last really good new movie I saw was La La Land and even then I had to see it twice to decide that I liked it and notice the details which made it so great. Crazy Rich Asians was not like that. Not even 5 minutes in, I could tell that this was a movie I would pay to come see again and that I was going to be glued to my seat for the next 2 hours. Often, when a movie, city, or restaurant receives so much praise our expectations are set too high and our actual experience falls short of what we had hoped it would be. When I see a movie, I want to laugh, cry and be wowed not just during certain scenes but throughout the whole movie. During Crazy Rich Asians, when I wasn’t laughing I was crying and when I wasn’t crying I had to pick my jaw off the floor in awe.
Without giving too much away, the premise of this movie is about a young man who decides to take his girlfriend of one year back to Singapore to meet his family and friends-relatable right? Well once Rachel and Nick arrive in Singapore you really don’t know what to expect or quite literally who or what is coming around the corner unless you have already read the book. The humor in the movie is often slightly cliché making digs at Asian stereotypes but at the same time biting and self aware. I knew I was about to lose it and nearly wet my pants when I saw Ken Jeong (The Hangover and Fresh Off the Boat) at the dinner table. Coincidentally, I had just recently visited Singapore and shared Rachel’s reaction to Chiang Mai airport and it’s butterfly garden, movie theater, massage chairs, free bus tour and pool. I was only able to explore the city for a few hours as I was en route to Surfers Paradise, Australia from Athens, Greece but I would say that the movie captured the surreal and extravagant qualities of that magical city.
Now I will admit that I am a sucker for romance and don’t often take romantic comedies too seriously. It’s hard to immerse yourself in a film after laughing so hard for the first half, but the cinematography of the wedding scene in this film was absolutely spectacular. I felt like I was a fly on the wall or rather buzzing around the isle, every few seconds you noticed something more about this opulent and extravagant several million dollar wedding. Not only was it a feast for your eyes but also your heart, everyone (especially me) cries at a wedding but this time you’ll notice several people crying for different reasons during the ceremony.
As you can probably surmise from the title of the movie, the entire cast is Asian but you will see the characters define and then compare and contrast Asian Americans with Asians. Though I identify as neither of those ethnicities, that didn’t stop me from enjoying and understanding the film as well as its importance. The comparison of Asian Americans and Asians was at first comical in this movie, however when values concerning family and happiness are defined it gets intense and eye opening. During my four years at university, I observed the differences in the family values of my European and Asian friends and noticed a common thread of closeness and respect going back several generations. The line was drawn in this film and it was loud and clear. Is it true that Americans are more concerned with their own happiness over family values compared to Asians or Europeans? If so, why is that and how did that happen? These are questions I immediately asked myself and I appreciated that this film provoked them. I didn’t have much time to ponder as my attention was diverted to either the colorful costumes or the spectacular scenery which quite honestly didn’t look real. The movie took place in Singapore but I learned that some of the scenes were shot in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, therefore adding to my bucket list. Also, the grandmother’s home is not CGI…the inside scenes were shot on a set and elsewhere but the exterior is a real estate in Singapore near the Botanic Gardens. In summation, this movie is fabulous, I could not get enough and I would 110% recommend. So I suggest you run, not walk but run to the theater!