Based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 book, Crazy Rich Asians is the first Hollywood film with a majority Asian (that’s American Asian which refers to people from the Far East, rather than South Asian as in the UK) cast in 25 years.
But this is no token ethnic film paying lip service to diversity. It’s a genuinely funny movie that has struck such a chord with audiences that it’s breaking US box office records, where it's been out since 15th August.
Ahead of its UK release on 14th September 2018, we went to a screening to see if it lives up to the hype.
Let’s begin with the plot. It’s a road well trodden: girl (US born uni professor Rachel Chu, played by Constance Wu) meets boy Nick Young (Henry Golding), they fall in love, he takes her to meet his family at his best pal's wedding. So far, so good. But suddenly, Rachel discovers a secret. Nick is rich.
But it’s not until she visits her Singapore-based college BFF Peik Lin (a character completely owned by the tremendous Awkwafina) that the penny fully drops for Rachel.
Rachel finds out the truth about her boyfriend Nick
It turns out Nick is super rich. Like, heir-to-a-real-estate-dynasty crazy rich. And the whole of Singapore knows it, knows him and his family and now knows about her – thanks to the warp-speed efficiency of the city's gossips combined with high-speed internet. And here's where the story really starts to shine.
Goh Peik Lin, Rachel's Singaporean college best friend, played by Awkwafina
Rachel does her best to fit in and impress, like any woman meeting her boyfriend's friends and family for the very first time. But she underestimates the snobbiness of Singapore society and their distrust of outsiders. Time and again, poor Rachel is snubbed for being a ‘nobody’. There’s plenty of parallels with Bollywood romcoms; plenty of glitz, glamour and treacherous back stabbing from Nick’s so-called pals.
But that's nothing compared to the carefully distilled viciousness of Nick’s tiger mother Eleanor Young (beautifully played by Michelle Yeoh) and his grandmother (Lisa Lu), who goes from sweet old lady to fire-breathing dragon so quickly it made us squirm in our seats.Michelle Yeoh plays Eleanor Young, Nick's formidable mother
There are themes of honour, family and duty, even if that means sacrificing personal happiness and love. The American ideals of the pursuit of individual happiness and upward social mobility are seen as tasteless. Sons are treated like kings and, in their mother’s eyes, no girl will ever be good enough – hmm, ring any bells?
But it’s not all doom and gloom – this is a rom com after all. Rachel has an ally in Nick's cousin, the chic and ever-elegant Astrid (Gemma Chan). Stepping into the fabulous Gucci shoes of fairy godmother is another cousin, Oliver (Nico Santos), who gives Rachel the kind of makeover that would make Cinderella weep with jealousy.Rachel gives Cinderella a run for her money just in time for the cousin's wedding
And the snippets of the Crazy Rich lifestyle were truly amazing – think a wild stag do on a container ship sailing across international waters, an extravagant-beyond-words hen at an exclusive resort, jaw-dropping houses, not to mention eye-wateringly luxurious wardrobes. This movie is a window into how the 1% really live.
Expect jaw-dropping scenes at this hen party like no other
Who could forget the wedding décor and bridal entrance? Once seen, never forgotten, the scene perfectly illustrates the expression 'more money than sense'. For any other family, a bride's demands of a water flooded aisle illuminated with the dainty glow of a thousand fairy light wands would raise eyebrows and have them calling a medic. When you're Crazy Rich? What the bride wants, no matter how ludicrous, the bride gets.
It’s extremely entertaining to see. After all, everyone enjoys an ogle over the picket fence at the greener side of the grass.
The bridal entrance recalls delightfully the expression 'more money than sense'
You can also expect to see some truly spectacular scenes of Singapore, which may well have been sponsored by the tourist board. If Crazy Rich Asians is a ploy to boost visitor numbers, it has successfully succeeded; we're itching to visit.
If there’s one thread we would pull, it’s this: here’s our heroine Rachel; the youngest professor at NYU, smart as a whip, fire in her belly, teaches game theory - and yet she's clueless to the fact her boyfriend is a minted property heir? Doesn't she Insta-stalk like the rest of us? In over a year of dating she asked zero questions on his friends, family or where he grew up? We need answers Hollywood.
One moment she's this gutsy, independent woman with nerves of steel; the next she has such naive, wide-eyed innocence that she makes Bambi look shifty. But then, where would the film be if she dished out NYC sass the second she stepped foot outside Singapore’s Changi airport?
Crazy Rich Asians has already cashed $180m (and that figure grows every day) at the American box office and the movie ends with a definite whiff of a sequel, so no doubt we'll see the cast return on screens very soon.
Is it destined to become a classic? It's got all the ingredients, but only time will tell. As for us, we would happily watch Crazy Rich Asians again once it hits UK cinemas on general release from 14th September 2018.