Why I’m excited for “Crazy Rich Asians”

The trailer and poster for Crazy Rich Asians is here! I’m beyond stoked to finally see glimpses of this film, and I can’t wait until I can sit my butt down in the theater August 17.

I’m sure a lot of us are excited to watch the film opening weekend. I definitely have my list of reasons, some of which are shallow and others that are more substantive.

First, the shallow reason I can’t wait for Crazy Rich Asians is the sheer amount of fashion we’ve been promised. If I’m watching a movie about rich people, you better be doggone sure I wanna see some stellar fashion. I must be astounded by the luxury! I must hate everyone on screen for being rich enough to afford to throw away Balenciaga! But beyond the fashion, I just want to get into immersed in the rich fantasy life for a couple of hours. Sell me the dream!

Caption: CONSTANCE WU as Rachel in Warner Bros. Pictures' and SK Global Entertainment's contemporary romantic comedy "CRAZY RICH ASIANS," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Sanja Bucko
CONSTANCE WU as Rachel in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and SK Global Entertainment’s contemporary romantic comedy “CRAZY RICH ASIANS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Sanja Bucko

One reason rom-coms (and British period television/film) are so popular is because of their ability to sell you the entire fantasy of the perfect life. You get the hot guy as your loyal, faithful boyfriend. You get the car, the yacht, the mansion, and anything else you want just because you deserve it for existing in the world. You even get to have the “downside” of having a snarky mother-in-law who gets on your nerves with her quips, but even that’s a boon because then you have something to gossip about with your ride-or-die Best Friend Forever. And, of course, you get to bring your friend over to help you figure out something to wear from your expansive walk-in closet full of clothes and shoes most people can’t afford on a yearly salary. It’s like living the Barbie Dreamhouse life.

So far, we’ve seen a lot of extravagance of all forms–men, clothes, transportation, and even a wedding–from the first look images. But I feel like the trailer is definitely holding back the best looks for the theater. Yes–I don’t think that amazing custom wedding dress will be the most extravagant look we’ll see, and that’s saying something. I’m ready for the film to completely wow me and simultaneously make me feel bad about my bank account.

A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures' and SK Global Entertainment's contemporary romantic comedy "CRAZY RICH ASIANS," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures’ and SK Global Entertainment’s contemporary romantic comedy “CRAZY RICH ASIANS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

On a more serious note, I’m excited to see a film that continues Hollywood’s focus on inclusion. I know people have been waiting for the day when they can finally see images of themselves in a movie, especially a rom-com movie, the rules of which dictate (for better or worse) so many aspects of our self-evaluation, whether we like to admit it or not. The film promises better representation and I think it’s already achieved its goal.

I mean, someone like Michelle Yeoh should be starring in tons of Hollywood films in a vast amount of roles every year, not just when Hollywood needs an Asian actress for “the Asian film.” And newcomers like Henry Golding, rapper/actress Awkwafina, and Constance Wu are just the types of actors Hollywood needs if it plans to diversify and become truly inclusive. The film is also giving wider platforms to its cast of Hollywood players and newer faces–Henry Golding, Constance Wu, rapper/actress Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Ronny Chieng, Chris Pang, Sonoya Mizuno, Nick Santos, Harry Shum Jr. and Ken Jeong, and introducing us to new faces, like Jimmy O. Yang, Remy Hii, Jing Lusi, Pierre Png, Fiona Xie and Kheng Hua Tan, to name a few.

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(L-R) MICHELLE YEOH as Eleanor, HENRY GOLDING as Nick and CONSTANCE WU as Rachel in Warner Bros. Pictures' and SK Global Entertainment's contemporary romantic comedy "CRAZY RICH ASIANS," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Sanja Bucko
(L-R) MICHELLE YEOH as Eleanor, HENRY GOLDING as Nick and CONSTANCE WU as Rachel in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and SK Global Entertainment’s contemporary romantic comedy “CRAZY RICH ASIANS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Sanja Bucko

However, I think the discussion about the film is also going to be just as critical. For this film, I’m just a spectator and cheerleader, hoping the film 1) paves the way for more Hollywood films starring all or mostly Asian casts and 2) helps the actors starring in this film get more roles in film and television (Awkwafina is already an Crazy Rich Asians actor who is on a Hollywood high, starring in both Crazy Rich Asians and Oceans 8). But while many Asian diasporic writers, creatives, and influencers have raved about the film and have rightly called out its importance to Hollywood cinema, there’s also a contingent who feel like the film won’t do enough–some critics are already annoyed by what they call the film’s adherence to the model minority myth, colonialism, colorism and erasure of brown Asian people.

To me, the criticisms (which are worth reading just as much as the praises) also point out why Crazy Rich Asians is so necessary to the world of Hollywood. It goes without saying that one film can’t write all the wrongs of Hollywood, and certainly one film can’t address every point of view or every life experience of its audience if it’s the only one of its kind out there. I don’t think the film or the cast and crew behind it would claim that the film is perfect. And, as much as some Asian Twitter denizens want to compare Crazy Rich Asians to Black Panther, a conversation that could make up an article all by itself, it must be known that even Black Panther, as good as it is, isn’t a perfect movie and has its share of criticisms levied against it, such as similar complaints about a model minority/respectability politics-laced superhero in the form of T’Challa (something I don’t necessarily agree 100 percent, but I see where the complaint about T’Challa is coming from.)

(L-R) MICHELLE YEOH as Eleanor, GEMMA CHAN as Astrid, LISA LU as Ah Ma, HENRY GOLDING as Nick and CONSTANCE WU as Rachel in Warner Bros. Pictures' and SK Global Entertainment's contemporary romantic comedy "CRAZY RICH ASIANS," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
(L-R) MICHELLE YEOH as Eleanor, GEMMA CHAN as Astrid, LISA LU as Ah Ma, HENRY GOLDING as Nick and CONSTANCE WU as Rachel in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and SK Global Entertainment’s contemporary romantic comedy “CRAZY RICH ASIANS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

While acknowledging and learning from the important issues being raised, I’m hoping this film will be one that will advance the cause and force Hollywood to see that narratives beyond the normalized white American ones are viable (and bankable) successes. Hopefully, the success of Crazy Rich Asians can inspire someone else to make a movie about their life experiences–experiences that Crazy Rich Asians can’t or won’t touch on as authentically as someone else can–and inspire studio heads to take chances on films they might have considered passing over. Hopefully, Crazy Rich Asians is just the beginning of a new era of Asian diasporic film in Hollywood. I’m ready to see more narratives out there, and if my pulse on the zeitgeist is correct, I believe a lot of people are ready, too. I’m also just as excited to see the types of discussions that will come from Crazy Rich Asians, since discussion and analysis is just as important as praising and cheerleading.

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the colorful poster for Crazy Rich Asians, featuring Henry Golding and Constance Wu

More about Crazy Rich Asians (from Warner Bros. Pictures): 

Jon M. Chu (“Now You See Me 2”) directed the contemporary romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians,” based on the acclaimed worldwide bestseller by Kevin Kwan.

The story follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu (Wu) as she accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young (Golding), to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore.  Excited about visiting Asia for the first time but nervous about meeting Nick’s family, Rachel is unprepared to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his life. 

It turns out that he is not only the scion of one of the country’s wealthiest families but also one of its most sought-after bachelors.  Being on Nick’s arm puts a target on Rachel’s back, with jealous socialites and, worse, Nick’s own disapproving mother (Yeoh) taking aim.  And it soon becomes clear that while money can’t buy love, it can definitely complicate things.

“Crazy Rich Asians” features an international cast of stars, led by Constance Wu (“Fresh Off the Boat”), Gemma Chan (“Humans”), Lisa Lu (“2012”), and Awkwafina (upcoming “Ocean’s 8,” “Neighbors 2”), with Ken Jeong (the “Hangover” films”) and Michelle Yeoh (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”).  The large starring ensemble also includes Henry Golding, making his feature film debut, Sonoya Mizuno (“La La Land”), Chris Pang (“Marco Polo”), Jimmy O. Yang (“Silicon Valley”), comedian Ronny Chieng (“The Daily Show”), Remi Hii (“Marco Polo”), and Nico Santos (“Superstore”).  

Color Force’s Nina Jacobson (“The Hunger Games” films) and Brad Simpson (“World War Z”), and Ivanhoe Pictures’ John Penotti (“Hell or High Water”) produced the film, with executive producers Tim Coddington, Kevin Kwan, Robert Friedland, and Sidney Kimmel serving as executive producers.  The screenplay is by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, based on the novel Crazy Rich Asians, by Kwan.

The creative filmmaking team included director of photography Vanja Cernjul (“Marco Polo”), production designer Nelson Coates (“Fifty Shades Darker”), costume designer Mary Vogt (“Kong: Skull Island”) and editor Myron Kerstein (“Going in Style”).  The music was composed by Brian Tyler (“Avengers: Age of Ultron”).

“Crazy Rich Asians” was filmed entirely on location in Singapore and Malaysia.  It is set for release on August 17, 2018.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with SK Global Entertainment and Starlight Culture, a Color Force/Ivanhoe Pictures/Electric Somewhere Production, a Jon M. Chu Film, “Crazy Rich Asians.” It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Entertainment Company. This film is rated PG-13.

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