My rating? C+
Okay, so this is an unpopular opinion, but I wasn’t that whelmed by Crazy Rich Asians.
I read the book, but it was years ago so I can’t do a book v movie comparison (although iirc I wasn’t that whelmed by the book, either). So my review is primarily through the lens of a former Singaporean PR watching a rom-com set in Singapore. I am also very critical of all the media I consume, so critiquing CRA is not an anomaly for me (or if it is, it’s only because I’m not sitting her complaining about all the changes from the book, which is far more my style).
I wasn’t crazy about CRA (pun intended). I’m closing comments because I’m not interested in moderating comments from those of you who are mad at my hot take. This is *my* opinion and ultimately it’s another in a long series of hot takes on CRA by every person with an internet connection.
Things I liked
- Constance Wu is a delight and should be in everything.
- Henry Golding can’t act, but has beautiful abs and I appreciate the multiple, lingering shots of them.
- It was cool to see the places that were shot on location like Changi (yes, Rachel is right, it is an amazing airport and the rest of the world only wishes they had the majesty and efficiency of Changi), and MBS.
- It follows the act structure of a rom com, more or less, and I haven’t seen many rom-coms in the theaters recently. I’m hoping the success of this one will help bring about both more movies centered around people of color and more romantic comedies.
- Michelle Yeoh is delightfully cruel. The scenes with her and Rachel are among the best in the movie. She should be in all the things, too.
- The look that Rachel’s mom gives Nick’s mom is perfect. I want a movie about her.
- It is a win for EAST Asian Americans. I get why this is a big moment, and I hope the box office continues to blow up for CRA. A huge CRA box office on top of the Get Out, Black Panther, and soon The Hate U Give box offices will hopefully lead to movies that center around other people of color. But keep in mind this isn’t a win for “Asians,” it’s a win for East Asians in the US.
My problems include, but are not limited to
- The ending is unbelievable, even within the constraints of the story. After everything, why would any self-respecting woman, much less someone with the brains and guts to be “the youngest faculty member at NYU” take Nick back after what his toxic friends and family did to her? Eleanor’s ring is not adequate compensation for knowing everyone affiliated with Nick hates her and wants her to fail. The pit is full of venomous snakes and I think Rachel should’ve kicked his sorry ass off the plane. Which leads to…
- I don’t care about Rachel and Nick. The best scenes are between Rachel and Eleanor. They had more chemistry than Rachel and Nick.
- Astrid’s story was more compelling and I care about where she goes next far more than I care about Rachel and Nick. So was Rachel’s mom’s story.
- While I loved that there were shots of Singapore, what was with the fixation on the MBS area? I mean, the first time I saw it, I was like awwwww. By the fifth identical shot, I was wondering why we couldn’t go to the Botanical Gardens or some other spot.
- Newton Circus is the best hawker centre? Is that just to show how out of touch rich people are? Because it’s not the best hawker centre by far. The hawker centre at the Little India wet market blows it out of the water, and that’s before we get into the heartland hawker centres.
- Peik Lin Goh’s blaccent. This is not how Awkwafina talks. Look at any interview. The use of a stereotypically American black accent (aka blaccent) is racist, and barely the tip of the racism iceberg. Nor do Singaporeans talk like that.
- Why was the only person in the entire movie with a Singapore accent one of Peik Lin’s little sisters? I kept my ears avidly open, knowing that it wouldn’t be a main character, but…really. The only time Singlish is used is during some texting–it wouldn’t have been too hard to sprinkle it in such that the viewer would get its meaning in context.
- Brown bodies as servants/comedic relief only. The Sikh bodyguards are there for comedic relief. There’s a flurry of brown maids for Astrid. Singapore is a diverse society, and even at the “crazy rich” level, there are rich Indians and rich Malays. There are rich expats of every color. But the use of brown bodies was racist in the book and it’s racist in the movie.
- What was even with the quote at the start of the movie about waking the sleeping giant of China? Singapore isn’t in China, nor does it want to be. Why not use some LKY quote? Again, missed opportunity.
- I don’t actually care, but in multicultural Singapore, especially with a family that has been there since the 1800’s and is clearly cozy with Western influence (a rich family would’ve been bff’s with the Brits in the colonial days and still sends kids like Nick to British boarding schools) isn’t going to be precious about every song being in Chinese.
- So it’s a rom-com, but it was light on the com part of the equation. Constance Wu has incredible comedic timing. It’s a missed opportunity that she didn’t get a chance to show off her comedic chops.
Ultimately I think you should see it and make your own conclusions. Anything that helps the CRA box office ultimately helps rom-coms in general and poc centered movies, and I want more of both.
But CRA? I doubt I’d watch it again.