Life In Excess (Crazy Rich Asians, 2018)

crazy_rich_asians_posterIn Jon Chu’s adaption of the book by Kevin Kwan, Rachel and Nick have been dating awhile. Nick invites her to go with him to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding.  What Rachel is unprepared for is the discovery that Nick comes from one of the richest families in Singapore.

As she tries to integrate with the family, many see her as nothing but a gold digger.  Nick’s mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) is a proper woman who believes Nick should not be involved with an American. And so begins a comedy about being in love and facing obstacles.

Crazy Rich Asians is, oddly enough, one of those rare situations where a pretty standard romantic comedy is also an important moment for entertainment.  It has been almost 25 years since Hollywood has produced a movie with an almost entirely Asian cast.

So does it work?  Yeah. As far as romantic comedies go, no new grounded is broken. The is a wacky friend, a sassy gay friend, an untrusting mother of the boyfriend. The film has an over the top bachelor and bachelorette party. Some of this is amped up by Rachel finding herself surrounded by opulence. Even her college friend Peik (Awkwafina) is from a fairly rich family.

But the story is well done.  The jokes are funny and the emotion is there. Nick is the decent rich guy (as is his sister Astrid). Rachel is kind but determined. And the film actually finds a thoughtful resolution with its central conflict.

One of my favorite gags occurs right at the start of the film, when there is a fun view of “telephone tag” after someone sees Nick and Rachel in a restaurant.  And the film has a really great (and in Hollywood tradition, largely attractive) cast.

Crazy Rich Asians did not rewrite the romcom, but it did do it exceptionally well.

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