So what do you get if you cross a less funny version of Meet the Fockers with a tourism advertisement for Singapore and inoculate the result with a suitably sterile dose of Hollywood sappiness: Crazy Rich Asians, a flick which never rises out of its comfortable niche as a mildly-entertaining, slick, run-of-the-mill romcom.
Like Meet the Fockers, the film follows the standard trope-ridden narrative: Boy meets girl, they fall in love and then have to meet the other’s parents. One of their families turns out to be incredibly difficult to please; the rest of movie centers on one half of the couple attempting to win over the parents and family of the other half. Blah blah blah. Happy ending. At least, the happy ending of Meet the Fockers was convincing though.
What sets Crazy Rich Asians apart is that there is so much untapped comedic potential, which is exactly what this film needs. Ken Jeong (Community) is criminally under-utilised, leaving most of the comedic heavy-lifting and sass to Awkwafina (Goh Peik Lin) and Nico Santos (Oliver T’sien), who do an amaing job by the way. The central couple, Constance Wu (Rachel Chu) and Henry Golding (Nicholas Young), are stupefyingly, frustratingly monotonous; they are written as that boring, vanilla couple that no-one wants to be friends with, but at least the actors are convincing. Michelle Yeoh (Eleanor Sung-Young) is utterly intimidating as the overbearing tiger mom. The playboy character of Bernard Tai is absolutely superfluous, along with the entirely the bucks’ night scenes which do not advance the storyline at all and would’ve cost a fortune to film.
This is, however, one of the first big Hollywood romcoms to feature a predominantly “Asian” cast, though the actual background of the cast is quite diverse, and while the film is focused upon Singaporean Chinese culture in particular, it perhaps could have done more to shed some light on the topic of racial segregation in Singapore, which is most fascinating in itself and is indirectly alluded to in the film. One of the more sincere scenes includes the food court scene when Nicholas and Rachel first arrive in Singapore, which introduces the audience to the most important aspect of Singaporean culture: eating. The majority of the film depicts Singapore in a surrealistically satirical light. However, if there’s one true thing that audience will take away is that there actually is a crazy rich Chinese community in Singapore.
Crazy Rich Asians is not a particularly bad movie it’s just frustratingly unextraordinary and safe, which was disappointing because with such a talented cast there was clearly much more potential. In any case, as a result of this film one can expect tourism in Singapore to increase exponentially.
Rating: 3/5 Stars