Crazy Rich Asians
dir Jon M Chu
scr Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim
prd Nina Jacobson, John Penotti, Brad Simpson
with Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Harry Shum Jr, Ken Jeong, Chris Pang, Jimmy O Yang, Nico Santos, Sonoya Mizuno, Ronny Chieng
release US 17.Aug.18, UK 14.Sep.18
18/US Warner 2h00
Crazy Rich Asians
Meeting mother: Yeoh, Golding and Wu

chan akwafina jeong
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Crazy Rich Asians It's clear early on that this is essentially a straightforward romantic-comedy, beefed up with an extra-large ensemble cast, several of whom are shameless scene-stealers. And the setting in Singapore's most wealthy echelon adds further opportunity for entertainment, thanks to Jon Chu's snappy direction and likeable actors who have a lot of fun with the witty script.

New York economics professor Rachel (Wu) has found the man of her dreams in Nick (Golding), and is looking forward to travelling to a wedding in Singapore to meet his family. Then she discovers that they are one of the wealthiest families in Asia, and suddenly meeting Nick's imperious mother Eleanor (Yeoh), matriarchal grandmother (Lu) and high-powered cousins becomes a lot more daunting. Most of Nick's family is welcoming, but some are very suspicious of any Americanised Chinese woman who doesn't come from an established family.

The story unfolds as an odyssey for Rachel as she meets a blinding array of friendly and hostile faces. Thankfully, her university buddy Peik Lin (Awkwafina) lives there, and is on-hand providing riotous one-liners at every turn, while her family (Jeong is her awkward dad) is just as funny. Other comedy characters include Yang's spoiled rich cousin Bernard (Yang), who plans the most insane bachelor party ever put on film, and "rainbow sheep of the family" Oliver (Santos), who helps Rachel refine her style.

Amid the colourful antics, the charming Wu and Golding get on with the central plot, facing family conflicts head-on. This lets them deepen their characters and help the audience root for their romance. Yeoh is excellent in a nicely complex antagonist role, as is Chan as a benevolent cousin who befriends Rachel when things begin to get difficult for her, and vice versa. Thankfully, the mix of characters, from wildly comical to darkly dramatic, manages to work, perhaps because most are both crazy and crazy rich.

A sustained blast of stylish energy sustains the relatively thin plot through the overlong running time. There isn't a dull moment, and Chu keeps the visuals colourful and almost jaw-droppingly over the top, never pausing the stream of food, flowers, dancers, glorious settings and beautiful people. It's also rather obvious that Singapore's tourism bureau was involved, as the city state has never looked quite this spectacular on the big screen. And note that novelist Kevin Kwan has written three books in this series, so there's more to come.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 31.Aug.18

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall