Crazy Rich Asians

Singapore has been called many things. The two most memorable are “Disneyland With the Death Penalty” and “Asia for Beginners.” In “Crazy Rich Asians” folks are introduced to a colorful, enticing and seemingly unattainable side of Singapore.

Based on the 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan (itself a semi-autobiographical tale), the film is a colorful, frothy rom-com most notable for its mainstream aspirations. Given the sad reality that casts filled with minorities have not fared well at the box office, this effort has a great shot at breaking through.

The simple premise (Chinese-American professor journeys to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family, only to discover they are impossibly rich) is a Petri dish for all kinds of plot devices. Bachelorette parties, family affairs, detectives and endless cultural and culinary backdrops fill out the storyline.

The production looks great, with color, costumes and cooking playing a significant role. Director Jon M. Chu leveraged his prior franchise work with “G.I. Joe” and other properties to bring a clever tone to “Crazy Rich Asians.” Singapore, always a brighter, shinier version of its neighbor Malaysia (from which it broke away in the 1960s) looks fabulous in the film. Not much needed to be cleaned up for the film shoot, as the city is always spotlessly clean.

The cast, on which so much relies, is uniformly strong: Henry Ewan Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Constance Wu , Awkwafina, Ken (“The Hangover”) Jeong, Michelle (“Tomorrow Never Knows”) Yeoh and Jimmy O. (“Silicon Valley”) Yang are particularly noteworthy.

The soundtrack is a clever blend of east and west, with a clever emphasis on topical melodies like “Material Girl” and “Money (That’s What I Want).”


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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