By MARIE ROPER
When “Crazy Rich Asians” hit the theaters last month, it was praised for its positive messages, display of Asian culture and all-Asian cast. A romantic comedy, this touching and empowering film follows Rachel Chu, an economics professor at NYU, and Nick Young, a history professor, who have been dating for a year. Nick invites Rachel to go to his friend’s wedding in Singapore where he is going to be the best man. He thinks this would be a great opportunity for Rachel to meet his family as well. But this trip is full of surprises for Rachel- Nick is actually from a family that is considered to be “Old Rich” and holds super traditional values.
Rachel tries to accommodate Nick’s family and their lifestyle while trying to get through to Nick’s mother, who does not think Rachel is a good fit for her son. Nick’s mother believes that wives should sacrifice their dreams to care for the family. Once Nick’s mother finds out that Rachel is a professor at a university, she views Rachel as self-centered and not able to provide for her potential future husband and family fully.
Compared to other rom-coms, “Crazy Rich Asians” has the typical mother disliking the girlfriend trope but with a refreshing twist, the healthy relationship between Rachel and Nick. Instead of spending time arguing with each other as we typically see in movies, these two show that by communicating feelings in a sincere and open way, you can promote a better understanding of one another.
One of many reasons why “Crazy Rich Asians” was interesting is the multitude of displays of Asian culture. Ann Hornaday, a movie critic at the Washington Post said “…the movie has layers of meaning and nuance that give it added richness, including a respectful critique of the Chinese tradition of filial loyalty, a withering look at intra-community prejudices that coexist with external racism, skeptical digs at unbridled materialism and sometimes stingingly on-point acknowledgment of China’s rising strength as a global economic and cultural force.”
Overall “Crazy Rich Asians” has a good platform to introduce aspects of Asian cultures to a broader audience. More films should take this approach.
Another interesting feature was the all-Asian cast breaking down racial stereotypes. Tara McNamara, from Common Sense Media said “It’s impossible not to notice the movie’s lingering shots of men’s bare chests, but this reverse objectification is subversively intentional: Asian men are rarely portrayed as sexy or appealing in the media, and the drooling cinematography is intended to challenge the idea that Asian men are undesirable.”
We also see the struggle of Asian females regarding their careers and household roles. In the movie, there are three strong female characters, Rachel, Astrid, and Eleanor. Rachel was raised by a single mother in the U.S where she is successful in her career but is viewed as self-centered by the older generation in the Asian culture. Astrid, Nick’s cousin, also comes from a wealthy family but has married a successful man who is from a middle-class family. She struggles to support her husband and make him feel good despite his insecurities.
Lastly, Eleanor, Nick’s mother, finally comes around to accept Rachel as a good partner for her son. All of these women are different in their own ways but throughout the movie, they all demonstrate great character development.
“Crazy Rich Asians” is a sweet romantic movie that has a message. Not only is it fun, but it promotes realizing your self-worth and appreciating your cultural heritage.