Review of Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Moving picture, 120 minutes

Seen in 2020.

Disappointingly cut from the romcom template of spectacle and sap, down to the topless men. Rachel’s lecture on economics is a card game to set up her later mahjong game; it has no relationship with teaching. Similarly, Eleanor’s Bible study group jumps from book to book at random; the writers evidently wanted to establish that the Youngs are Christian and therefore decided to show them reading the Epistles (ca. 110 CE) but had no interest in making it plausible.

On a more intimate level, the way Oliver deflects Kitty Pong demonstrates and celebrates the same class-based contempt that causes Eleanor’s conflict with Rachel. The writers decided that the trashy, slutty, stupid, gold-digging stereotype is accurate for Kitty and inaccurate for Rachel, not inaccurate as a rule.

The best thing about Crazy Rich Asians is Ronny Chieng. The second best thing about it is the absence of the normally obligatory white placeholder character for white US audience identification in the exotic environment, but alas, the native New Yorker ingenue is close enough. The sense and relevance of ethnic authenticity would have been greater if Rachel’s father had contributed a bit of texture to the portrayal of the emigrant-immigrant experience, but even with a two-hour runtime, fathers are not characters in this movie.

References here: The Meg (2018).

moving picture fiction