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Crazy Rich Asians

by Frank J. Avella
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Nov 21, 2018
Crazy Rich Asians

I missed all the "Crazy Rich Asians" hoopla, as I was away most of August. So, as I popped the Blu-ray in, I was almost daring it to live up to the hype.

Ostensibly a My-Best-Friend's-Rich-Asian-Wedding-type rom-com, the film is actually deeper and more resonant than that, as it explores tradition vs. following your passion. And it's groundbreaking since an all-Asian ensemble has not been featured in a major studio release since "The Joy Luck Club" in 1993 (and before that, who can recall). AND it shattered box office records!
The seemingly simplistic plot has NYU economics prof Rachel (an endearing Constance Wu) in love with hunky boyfriend, Nick (Henry Golding, just smoldering) and about to meet his family as they both journey to Singapore for the wedding of Nick's best friend. Unbeknownst to Rachel, Nick comes from an insanely rich clan that has deep claws into Nick and what his future should hold. Nick's mother, Eleanor (the amazing Michelle Yeoh), does not accept Rachel, and trouble ensues, as you can imagine. But - and here's where cultural differences come into play - the battles that are won and lost are all in a graceful and tasteful manner.

It's important to mention that Nick's sister Astrid (a piercingly good Gemma Chan) is going through her own emotional turmoil and I wish the filmmakers (John M. Chu directing a mostly insightful screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Li) would have devoted more time to her subplot and less to the silly antics of Rachel's college friend (Awkwafina) and her annoying family. Do filmmakers always have to pander to the lowest common denominator when it comes to comedy?

That is really the only fault with this delightful film that seems to have sequel built into the plot. (Where exactly is Rachel's real father?) And since the film s based on a Kevin Kwan novel and he wrote two follow-ups, I am certain we are in for more "Crazy Rich" treats.

Golding and Wu have tremendous chemistry, and it's easy to root for them.

But the heart of the film is Yeoh, who is finally getting her due onscreen and on TV in "Star Trek: Discovery." Eleanor could have easily been dismissed as a stereotypical villain, but Yeoh gives her great nuance, and her backstory demands we have empathy for her. Yeoh was robbed of an Oscar nomination in 2000 for her astonishing work in Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Let's hope the Academy sees fit to finally recognize her here.

The visuals and audio on the Blu-ray are impressive with locales popping.
The Special Features, however, are a bit disappointing, with one too-short doc, "Crazy Rich Fun," that is a glorified studio promo, a blink-and-miss-it gag reel, and an interesting audio commentary with Chu and Kwan. The deleted scenes do feature a lovely scene between Golding and Yeoh that should have been included in the final cut (instead of montaging it).

"Crazy Rich Asians" is a perfect holiday film to watch with a few glasses of wine, cuddled with your significant other... or with friends... or alone... with a bottle of vino... or two. And maybe some tissues.

"Crazy Rich Asians"
Combo Pack: Blu-ray, DVD & Digital

Frank J. Avella is a film and theatre journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He is also a proud Dramatists Guild member and a recipient of a 2018 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship. He was awarded a 2015 Fellowship Award from the NJ State Council on the Arts, the 2016 Helene Wurlitzer Residency Grant and the Chesley/Bumbalo Foundation Playwright Award for his play Consent, which was also a 2012 semifinalist for the O'Neill. His play, Vatican Falls, took part in the 2017 Planet Connections Festivity and Frank was nominated for Outstanding Playwriting. Lured was a semifinalist for the 2018 O'Neill and received a 2018 Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation Grant. Lured will premiere in 2018 in NYC and 2019 in Rome, Italy. LuredThePlay.com


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