Asian Invasion

Constance Wu Headlines All-Asian Cast in Can’t-Miss Summer Rom-Com

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Crazy Rich Asians
Starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding & Michelle Yeoh
Directed by Jon M. Chu
PG-13

This splendid, wildly sumptuous wedding-themed romantic comedy is, as the saying goes, something old, something new.

It’s as old as a fairy tale and as new as the history it’s making, as the first major Hollywood movie in more than 25 years with an all-Asian cast. And it’s got all the ingredients to be the big date-movie comedy of the summer—waves upon waves of humor and heart, gorgeous characters, a fabulous setting and a story that resonates across time and place.

Director Jon M. Chu’s adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s best-selling 2013 novel centers around Rachel (Constance Wu, fresh off TV’s Fresh Off the Boat), an economics professor at NYU. Her history-teacher boyfriend, Nick (Henry Golding), wants her to return with him to Singapore to attend the wedding of his best friend.

It’ll be a great way for Rachel to meet his family and see his home turf, Nick says.

Rachel has no idea that Nick’s family is practically royalty in Singapore, where they’re a real-estate dynasty that owns much of the island republic. They are insanely wealthy, crazy-rich.

Raised by a single mother, Rachel is stunned to find out that Nick is basically “the Prince William of Asia.” The movie unfolds as she (and the audience) gets to know her Prince Charming’s relatives and friends—and gets her bearings among the ultrarich and famous.

Crazy Rich Asians

Yeoh, Golding & Wu

But she’s not exactly welcomed with open arms. Nick’s mother, Eleanor (the great Michelle Yeoh, best remembered from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and as the “Bond girl” in Tomorrow Never Dies) not only puts the chill on Rachel, she openly disapproves. American-born Rachel is Chinese-American, not fully Chinese—and Eleanor tells her she’ll never be good enough for her son. And Nick’s scheming ex-girlfriends and jealous wannabes all want to send the “commoner” packing.

Do Nick and Rachel stand a chance, with the odds—and the force of his family—stacked against them? Don’t count the commoner out.

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Awkwafina & Wu

Thank goodness Rachel can turn for support to an old college friend, Peik Lin, who’s played with spritely glee by rapper-actress Awkwafina (from Ocean’s 8), who becomes her comedic sidekick, consultant and advisor.

The movie is a swirl of supporting characters, and it’s sometimes hard to keep up. Gemma Chan (from AMC’s TV series Humans) is Astrid, Nick’s beautiful, big-hearted cousin, whose mega-money can’t cover the cracks in her own crumbling marriage. Ken Jeong (from the Hangover movies and TV’s Dr. Ken) plays Peik Lin’s father, whose family’s “newer” affluence is a crass comedic clash with the older, much more established wealth of Nick’s family. Jimmy O. Yang (from Silicon Valley), plays one of Nick’s old classmates, throwing a randy bachelor party that defines toxic male excess.

But at this core of any Cinderella story is, of course, Cinderella. And Wu is terrific in her first leading movie role, bringing the audience along for every magical moment of feisty Rachel’s emotional journey. She’s now officially a movie star.

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The movie is a sensory feast, a buffet of couture, customs, cuisine and mind-boggling over-the-top opulence. Wanna see a $40 million wedding? Hear a Madonna song sung in Cantonese? Sit in on a dumpling-making session? Go on a wild island shopping spree? It’s like being suddenly transported to the other side of the world in a frothy, fizzy explosion—and exploration—of culture, history and impossibly high-rolling lifestyle. There are themes of family, friendship and tradition woven into a heartwarming love story about belonging, assimilating and accepting.

A celebratory tale of two cultures coming together, it’s a fresh twist on a familiar rom-com format, set in an exotic place that few Americans have ever been, featuring a cast that signals a major milestone for Asians and Asian-Americans—who rarely see themselves depicted on screen in such a positive, diverse, non-stereotypical way.

In the movie, we’re told that Nick’s wedding, whenever it happens, would be the “event of the century.” Crazy Rich Asians is a major movie event of the summer. You’d be crazy to miss it.

In theaters Aug. 15, 2018

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