SPOILER ALERT: Crazy Rich Asians is such an amazing movie that I can’t help but discuss its plot extensively throughout this article.
I love Crazy Rich Asians (CRA). Walking into the movie theater to watch the movie, I didn’t realize how touching it would be for me to watch so many different Asian characters represented in a genuinely well-made and heartfelt movie, but that was exactly my experience. With a diversity, opulence, and set of themes both familiar and unique, CRA surpassed my expectations; this movie is a dazzling beauty.
CRA is charismatic: it is a rom-com rich with its characters’ depth and, well, money. CRA is funny: many scenes in the movie are carried by the genuine hilarity of characters such as Peik Lin (acted by the queen Awkwafina), with a humor that never becomes overly self-deprecating. Most importantly, CRA is a movie fundamentally driven by its main characters’ kindness, a kindness persistent throughout their circumstances, and this kindness is what really holds up the warm fuzzies of the movie.
Starting with its main characters, Nick Young and Rachel Chu, CRA really hits a home run with this pair. These two people are each both relatable, entertaining, and kind. Plus, Nick and Rachel’s tight-knit chemistry is undeniable. When Nick claims that “I had like a tiny bit” of Rachel’s of dessert and nothing more, the third wheel of most great relationships, food, is readily used. Plus, the movie’s central plotline about Rachel coming to grips with the fact that her boyfriend is crazy rich and nothing less heavily benefits from the extra details revealed about the two’s relationship in CRA, such as Nick having “a Jamba Juice card” and using “my Netflix password.” Above everything else, Nick and Rachel are people, two people who very much love each other, and CRA does a great job establishing this baseline.
Of course, CRA is not just about Nick and Rachel’s stereotypical and ordinary American dating lives. CRA is about how Nick and Rachel each find a way to retain their cultural, family, and personal identities amidst the conflict arising between the ordinary and opulent side of each other’s lives. CRA is about how when Nick asks Rachel to “marry me and we’ll start a new life together in New York,” Rachel turns him down “because if Nick chose me, he would lose his family.” CRA is about how, in the face of Nick’s family’s condemnation of her, Rachel introspectively evaluates her cultural identity as a Chinese-American and decides to fiercely love herself anyways. CRA tackle issues of Asian identity deftly, and consequently CRA, as the first movie with an all-Asian main cast in twenty-five years, becomes a platform for celebrating the diversity of the Asian identity.
So, CRA has an absolutely invaluable thematic core, and what makes CRA’s expression of its themes so enjoyable is its well-developed sense of comedy, the “com” side to this rom-com. In particular, Peik Lin is the comedic core of this movie. Peik Lin is a delightfully erratic comedic machine who churns out several golden one-liners for every minute of her screen time. Whether through looking at Rachel’s outfit and telling her that “You need to not look like Sebastian of The Little Mermaid” or carrying a cocktail dress in her car trunk because “I’m not an animal, Rachel,” Peik Lin brings a well-appreciated levity to the film. More importantly, despite the crudeness of some of her jokes, Peik Lin brings this levity with grace. Peik Lin doesn’t ever resort to overly offensive racial comments in order to bring humor on screen. Peik Lin’s humor is sharp and socially aware, but it isn’t condemnatory. Consequently, Peik Lin’s character in CRA reveals Asians aren’t just diversified in social class and cultural standards, but that Asians can also be funny, crazy funny.
So, at the end of the day, CRA might be tagged as a rom-com, but it is so much more than that. CRA is a celebration; it is a celebration of the diversity of Asian culture. In CRA, Asians can be loving, caring, funny, and kind. In CRA, Asians can be rich, poor, self-aware, and everything else in between. In CRA, Asians are defined not by what they achieve or their inner dogma, but by the way they treat other people, their basic humanity. Because wealth is not the limit to defining who Asians are in CRA, the dichotomy within their Asian identity stops feeling crazy, but ordinary.