Variation on a theme: 'Crazy Rich Asians' is colorful romantic romp

(L-R) CONSTANCE WU as Rachel and HENRY GOLDING as Nick in Warner Bros. Pictures', SK Global Entertainment's and Starlight Culture's contemporary romantic comedy "CRAZY RICH ASIANS," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

Crazy Rich Asians
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Jon M. Chu
Writer: Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim, Kevin Kwan (novel)
Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Rated: PG-13 for some suggestive content and language

Synopsis: Unaware that her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), is part of Singapore’s most wealthy and famous families, Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), a Chinese-American teacher, travels with him to attend a wedding and meet his family.

Review: As the first Hollywood film to feature a predominantly Asian cast since 1993’s “The Joy Luck Club,” there has been a strong social media push suggesting that audiences, particularly those from the Asian-American community, should see “Crazy Rich Asians” as a way of proving that a mainstream film centered on Asian characters and Asian culture can be profitable.

You should see “Crazy Rich Asians,” not just because representation matters, but because it is an enjoyable romantic comedy. The core cast is great, the cinematography and art design are stunning. The gorgeous wedding scene is worth the price of admission all on its own. There are moments that are easily as magical as anything featured in any Disney animated film.

The film is somewhat limited by being a broad romantic comedy and falls prey to some of traditional genre tropes: It focuses on the beautiful and wealthy aspects of Singapore society while ignoring the middle and lower class; its secondary characters are underdeveloped; its filled with the expected “little surprises” that populate many romantic comedies; and it all funnels to an ending that is telegraphed from the opening scene.

There will be those who say that "Crazy Rich Asians" could have been even more representational. They certainly aren't wrong. I would have also liked the film to be a little more exotic, a further step away from mainstream cinema that didn’t rely on such a familiar formula and gave a wider look at Singapore and its unique culture. Unfortunately, had they decided to move further away from the genre’s trappings the less likely it would have been to find a mainstream audience. Still, progress is progress and while it might not be perfect, I'd like to believe that “Crazy Rich Asians” pushes the boundaries just enough to allow the next film with a predominantly Asian cast to dig deeper into aspects of the culture that have not been explored by mainstream Hollywood. Hopefully we don't have to wait 25 years to see that film.

If you enjoy romantic comedies, then "Crazy Rich Asians" will more than suffice regardless of what ethnicity you happen to be.