Crazy Rich Asians -film

Crazy Rich Asians is a 2018 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Jon M. Chu, from a screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan. The film stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, and Michelle Yeoh. It follows a Chinese-American professor who travels to meet her boyfriend's family and is surprised to discover they are among the richest in Singapore. The film was announced in August 2013 after the rights to the book were purchased. Much of the cast signed on in the spring of 2017, and filming took place from April to June of that year in parts of Malaysia and Singapore. It is the first film by a major Hollywood studio to feature a majority cast of Asian descent in a modern setting since The Joy Luck Club in 1993. Despite praise for that, the film did receive some criticism for casting biracial actors over fully ethnically Chinese ones in certain roles. Additional criticisms were directed at the film for failing to have non-Chinese Singaporean ethnic groups—notably Malay and Indian actors—as characters.

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Crazy Rich Asians
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJon M. Chu
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onCrazy Rich Asians
by Kevin Kwan
Starring
Music byBrian Tyler
CinematographyVanja Cernjul
Edited byMyron Kerstein
Production
company
  • SK Global Entertainment[1]
  • Starlight Culture Entertainment[1]
  • Color Force
  • Ivanhoe Pictures
  • Electric Somewhere[2]
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • August 7, 2018 (2018-08-07) (TCL Chinese Theatre)
  • August 15, 2018 (2018-08-15) (United States)
Running time
121 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$30 million[4]
Box office$238.5 million[4]

Crazy Rich Asians is a 2018 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Jon M. Chu, from a screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan. The film stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, and Michelle Yeoh. It follows a Chinese-American professor who travels to meet her boyfriend's family and is surprised to discover they are among the richest in Singapore.

The film was announced in August 2013 after the rights to the book were purchased. Much of the cast signed on in the spring of 2017, and filming took place from April to June of that year in parts of Malaysia and Singapore. It is the first film by a major Hollywood studio to feature a majority cast of Asian descent in a modern setting since The Joy Luck Club in 1993. Despite praise for that, the film did receive some criticism for casting biracial actors over fully ethnically Chinese ones in certain roles. Additional criticisms were directed at the film for failing to have non-Chinese Singaporean ethnic groups—notably Malay and Indian actors—as characters.

Crazy Rich Asians premiered on August 7, 2018, at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles and was released theatrically in the United States on August 15, 2018, by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise for its acting, production and costume design. The film grossed over $238 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade. The film received numerous accolades, including at the 76th Golden Globe Awards earning nominations for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical for Wu. It also received four nominations at the 24th Critics' Choice Awards, winning one for Best Comedy, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the 25th Screen Actors Guild Awards. Two sequels are currently in development.

Plot

In 2018, Nick Young and his girlfriend Rachel Chu, an economics professor at New York University (NYU), travel to Singapore for the wedding of his best friend Colin to Araminta. In Singapore, Rachel visits her college friend Peik Lin and her family, who are shocked when Rachel tells them that she is dating Nick Young. Peik Lin explains that Nick's family is extremely wealthy and well-known and that Nick's high-society family and friends will give her a cold reception, but Rachel is unconcerned. At a dinner party at Nick's family estate, Nick introduces Rachel to his mother Eleanor, while Nick's cousin Astrid discovers that her husband Michael, a former military captain, has been having an affair. Rachel worries that Eleanor dislikes her, although she seems to make a good impression on Nick's grandmother Su Yi.

Rachel attends Araminta's bachelorette party, where she is confronted by Amanda, who reveals that she is Nick's former girlfriend. Rachel returns to her hotel room to find it vandalized, and is comforted by Astrid, who tells her about Michael's affair. Nick attends Colin's bachelor party, where he tells Colin about his plan to propose to Rachel. Colin expresses his concern about the trouble it will cause Rachel, especially with Nick expected to stay in Singapore and run his family's corporation. Rachel vents to Nick about the bachelorette party, and he apologizes to her for not telling her about his family before. He takes her to make jiaozi dumplings with his family, where Rachel admires Eleanor's emerald engagement ring. Later, Eleanor recounts the sacrifices she made to become a part of the Young family, privately telling Rachel that she will never measure up. Rachel is hesitant about attending the wedding, but Peik Lin convinces her to go and stand up to Eleanor. While driving to the wedding, Astrid confronts Michael about his affair. He partially blames his unhappiness and the great financial disparity between them on her then gets out of their car en route.

At the wedding, Rachel stands up to Amanda and Eleanor. During the reception that night, Eleanor and Su Yi privately confront Rachel and Nick. Using the findings of a private investigation, Eleanor reveals that Rachel was conceived through an adulterous affair, after which Rachel's mother, Kerry, abandoned her husband and fled to the United States. Following this, they demand that Nick stop seeing Rachel for fear of a scandal. Rachel is stunned, as Kerry had told her that her father was dead, then flees in tears. Nick chases after her despite Su Yi's warnings. Rachel stays at Peik Lin's home for a few days, depressed and drained. Kerry arrives in Singapore to pay her a surprise visit, explaining that her husband was abusive and that the comfort an old classmate provided turned into love and a surprise pregnancy. She later fled in fear of her husband. Kerry tells Rachel that Nick had arranged for her visit, and urges Rachel to talk to him. When they meet, Nick apologizes and proposes to Rachel.

Rachel arranges to meet Eleanor at a mahjong parlor. She tells Eleanor that she declined Nick's proposal so his relationship with his family would not be ruined, and that when Nick eventually marries someone who is good enough for Eleanor, it will be because of her. Astrid tells Michael that she will be moving out of their apartment, blaming him for their marriage failure. Rachel and Kerry board a flight back to New York City, but are interrupted by Nick, who proposes with Eleanor's ring, revealing her blessing. Rachel accepts and they stay in Singapore for one more night for an engagement party, where Eleanor nods at Rachel in acknowledgment. In a mid-credits scene, Astrid exchanges glances with her ex-fiancé Charlie Wu.

Cast

Constance Wu (above) and Henry Golding play the lead characters Rachel Chu and Nick Young.

Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan has a cameo appearance during the Radio One Asia sequence.[27] Kina Grannis makes an appearance during the wedding sequence as the wedding singer.[27]

Production

Pre-production

Kevin Kwan published his comedic novel Crazy Rich Asians on June 11, 2013. One of the first producers to contact Kwan was Wendi Deng, who had read an advance copy of the novel provided by Graydon Carter.[28][29] Another of the producers who was initially interested in the project proposed whitewashing the role of heroine Rachel Chu by casting a Caucasian actress,[30] prompting Kwan to option the rights to the film for just $1 in exchange for a continuing role for creative and development decisions.[28][31] In August 2013, producer Nina Jacobson acquired rights to adapt the novel into a film. Jacobson and her partner Brad Simpson intended to produce under their production banner Color Force, with Bryan Unkeless developing the project. Their initial plan was to produce the film adaptation outside the studio system and to structure financing for development and production from Asia and other territories outside the United States.[32][33] The freedom created by eschewing the typical funding structure would enable an all-Asian cast. Jacobson stated "Getting something in development and even getting some upfront money is an easy way to not ever see your movie get made."[28]

In 2014, the US-based Asian film investment group Ivanhoe Pictures partnered with Jacobson to finance and produce Crazy Rich Asians.[34] John Penotti, president of Ivanhoe, stated "For us, the book fell in our lap kind of like, 'This is why we're doing the company.' Unlike the Hollywood second-guessing, 'Oh my God, will this work? We don't know. It's all Asian,' it was exactly the opposite for us: 'That's exactly why it will work.'"[28]

Screenwriters Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim were hired to write the screenplay before a director was brought on board.[29] Chiarelli was credited with focusing the plot on the dynamic between Eleanor, Rachel, and Nick. Lim, who was born in Malaysia, added specific cultural details and developed Eleanor's character.[28] Director Jon M. Chu entered negotiations with Color Force and Ivanhoe Pictures in May 2016 to direct the film adaptation.[35] He was hired after giving executives a visual presentation about his experience as a first-generation Asian-American. Chu was actually mentioned obliquely in the source novel as Kwan was friends with Chu's cousin Vivian.[28]

In October 2016, Warner Bros. Pictures acquired the distribution rights to the project after what Variety called a "heated" bidding war.[36] Netflix reportedly fervently sought worldwide rights to the project, offering "artistic freedom, a greenlighted trilogy and huge, seven-figure-minimum paydays for each stakeholder, upfront". However, Kwan and Chu selected Warner Bros. for the cultural impact of a wide theatrical release.[28][29]

Dates are dates, and if those are immovable, I understand. But I would put all of my heart, hope, humor, and courage into the role. What this could do means so much to me. It's why I advocate so much for young Asian-American girls so they might not spend their life feeling small or being commanded to feel grateful to even be at the table.

  Constance Wu, correspondence to Jon M. Chu (2016)[28]

Although she had initially auditioned for the role of Rachel in mid-2016, Constance Wu could not accept due to a conflict with her work on the television series Fresh Off the Boat. However, Wu wrote to Chu explaining her connection with Rachel's character, and convinced him to push back the production schedule by four months.[28] Production was slated to begin in April 2017 in Singapore and Malaysia.[9][37][38]

Casting

After Wu was chosen to play the lead Rachel Chu,[5] newcomer Henry Golding was cast to play the male lead Nick Young.[6] Michelle Yeoh joined the cast as Eleanor Young, Nick's mother, in March 2017.[39] Rounding out the supporting cast was Gemma Chan as Nick's cousin Astrid Young and Sonoya Mizuno as Araminta Lee.[15] Wu, Yeoh, and Chan were part of director Chu's "dream casting sheet" before casting was confirmed, along with Ronny Chieng and Jimmy O. Yang.[29] On April 18, 2017, Filipina actress Kris Aquino was cast in a cameo role.[40] On May 12, it was announced that Ken Jeong had joined the cast.[41] Although Jeong had a minor role involving less than a week of filming, he stated "It's just something I wanted to be part of. It's about wanting to be part of something monumental. Something that's bigger than me. I'm so giddy I'm part of this, I can't even tell you."[28]

The casting of Nick Young, Golding's eventual role, initially had been challenging for the filmmakers, as director Jon M. Chu reportedly was unsatisfied with the preliminary finalists from Los Angeles and China, as he felt that none of the actors could properly replicate the British accent Nick was described as having from the original book.[29] After receiving a tip from his accountant Lisa-Kim Kuan,[42] Chu began actively pursuing Golding for the role of Nick, who he felt had the proper accent and look for the character.[43]

Biscuit Films, a production company based in Petaling Jaya that provided support for the film, commissioned casting director Jerrica Lai to provide local talent which included Carmen Soo (as Francesca Shaw, a socialite) and Calvin Wong (Peik Lin's awkward brother).[44]

The film's casting prior to release was met with both praise—in the U.S. for its all-Asian cast—and criticism for its lack of Asian ethnic diversity, based on issues ranging from non-Chinese actors (Golding and Mizuno) playing Chinese roles; the film's ethnic Chinese and East Asian predominance as being poorly representative of Singapore; and as being a perpetuation of existing Chinese dominance in its media and pop culture.[45]

For more discussion on the criticism of casting choices, refer to § Casting criticism.

Filming

The Carcosa Seri Negara in Malaysia, featured in the film as the Tyersall Park mansion.

Principal photography began on April 24, 2017,[46] and completed on June 23.[47] The film was shot at locations in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and Penang, Malaysia, and in Singapore.[48][49] The film was shot by Vanja Černjul using Panasonic VariCam PURE cameras equipped with anamorphic lenses.[50] Production design is credited to Nelson Coates.[51]

Producer Tim Coddington contacted Biscuit Films for potential locations in Malaysia similar to photographs he had of mansions in Thailand, and Biscuit convinced him to switch locations to Malaysia, which is culturally more similar to Singapore, where the source novel is set.[44] The ancestral Young family home, set at Tyersall Park in Singapore, was actually filmed at two abandoned mansions that make up Carcosa Seri Negara within the Perdana Botanical Gardens of Kuala Lumpur.[52] Interior scenes were filmed at one building, and the exterior scenes were filmed at another; they had originally been built as residences for the British High Commissioner to Malaya in the early 20th century,[52] and were recently used as a boutique hotel until it closed in 2015.[53] The Carcosa Seri Negara buildings, owned by the Malaysian government, were then abandoned; as found in 2017, they were in disrepair and "filled with monkey feces".[54][55] The set designers were inspired to decorate the interior set in the Peranakan style. Kevin Kwan, who was born in Singapore and lived with his paternal grandparents before moving to the United States, contributed vintage family photographs for the set.[55] The set designers removed carpets, painted the floors to look like tiles, and commissioned local artists to create murals. The stuffed tiger in the foyer was a simulacrum created from foam and fur in Thailand; customs inspectors delayed the shipment because they thought it was an actual taxidermied animal.[54]

CHIJMES complex in Singapore, where the wedding in the film was held.

The opening urban scenes set in London and the West Village were actually shot in Kuala Lumpur and Penang:[55] the Calthorpe Hotel purchased by the Youngs is the E&O Hotel in Penang; the lecture auditorium set at NYU was filmed in Putrajaya; and the restaurant where Nick asks Rachel to travel was filmed at BLVD House, Naza Towers at Platinum Park in Kuala Lumpur.[44] The taxi drop-off scene set at John F. Kennedy International Airport also was filmed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.[56] Singapore Airlines was asked to participate in exchange for product placement, but declined as "they were not sure the movie would represent the airline and their customer[s] in a good light", according to producer Brad Simpson, leading to the creation of the fictional Pacific Asean Airlines for the film.[51] After Nick asks Rachel to travel with him to Araminta and Colin's wedding, rumors about his mystery girlfriend soon reach Eleanor at a Bible study session, filmed in the private residence Be-landa House in Kuala Lumpur.[57][58] The luxurious first-class suite on the Pacific Asean flight was a set built at the Malaysia International Exhibition & Convention Centre (MIECC) in Serdang, Selangor.[44] The scenes where Rachel and Nick arrive at Changi Airport and are then whisked away to Newton Food Centre by Colin and Araminta were shot on location.[49][53][59] After settling in, Rachel and Nick stay at a luxury hotel (scenes were shot at the Raffles Hotel) instead of the ancestral Young estate at Tyersall.[49][60] Astrid's character is introduced by showing her shopping for jewelry at an exclusive designer; the shop was created by redecorating the Astor Bar at the St. Regis Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.[54][61] The Goh family's home is an actual residence off Cluny Park in Singapore, although the set decorators were responsible for the excessive gilding and pillars.[53][62]

Colin and Nick escape the party barge (the set was built in a parking lot at MIECC, and a container ship was rented for exterior shots)[49][54][44] to relax on Rawa Island (scenes filmed on Langkawi Island),[44][63] and the bachelorette party takes place at the Four Seasons on Langkawi.[59] After Eleanor intimidates Rachel at the dumpling party, she is cheered up by Peik Lin at the restaurant Humpback on Bukit Pasoh Road.[49][53][60] The wedding of Araminta and Colin was shot at the CHIJMES, a former convent in Singapore built in the 19th century.[49][55][59] After the wedding, the reception is held in the Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay.[49][59] Rachel agrees to meet Nick at Merlion Park (this scene also featured locations filmed at Esplanade Park)[64] before she returns to New York.[59][63] Eleanor strides through archways in Ann Siang Hill near Singapore's Chinatown[63] before arriving for the mahjong showdown with Rachel, which was filmed at the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Penang, redecorated for the film as a mahjong parlor.[53][59] Chu wanted that mahjong scene to be "very specifically choreographed", and had hired a mahjong expert to advise on the choreography.[65] A late scene featuring Nick and Rachel was filmed inside a twin-aisle jet parked at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.[66] The film's closing scenes are set at the Marina Bay Sands.[59]

Costumes

[The Youngs] are really ‘old money.’ Peik Lin Goh’s family are ‘new money.’ They just made their money and are really enjoying [it]. They’re just flinging it around, wanting to show it [off]. The Young family is used to having money, and they are quiet about it. They dress in a more elegant way. Their house looks more like a museum, and it’s all very understated.

  Costume designer Mary Vogt on costuming the film (2018)[67]

Costume design was handled by Mary Vogt, with Andrea Wong serving as a consultant and senior costume buyer.[68] They used dresses and suits from fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren, Elie Saab, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, and Christian Dior;[67][69] many of the brands were eager to have their clothes shown off in the film.[68] Looks were influenced by other movies cited by director Jon Chu, including The Wizard of Oz, Cinderella, and In the Mood for Love.[67] 30 makeup artists were on set to help the actors, who were filming scenes in conditions of high heat and humidity while wearing formal clothing.[70]

Before traveling to Malaysia and Singapore, Vogt received help from Kwan, who shared vintage family photographs to explain how the old money society in Singapore "was very classy, very elegant",[68][69] contrasting with the new money Goh family, who are "just flinging it around, wanting to show it [off]".[67] Andrea Wong pointed Vogt to designers around Kuala Lumpur, who contributed not only clothes but also insight into local high-society fashions.[68] Kwan, who had worked as a design consultant before writing the novel, relied on people he knew working in the fashion industry to bring in clothes for the film.[68]

In an early scene, Astrid gives a watch to her husband Michael; it is a "Paul Newman" Rolex Daytona loaned following a request from Kwan for the filming.[70][71][72] Yeoh used her friendships with wealthy Singaporean and Hong Kong tai tais to help shape final wardrobe choices, and loaned pieces from her personal jewelry collection, including the distinctive emerald engagement ring.[66][68][73] Kwan and director Chu insisted that all the pieces worn by the Young family must be real; the orchid brooch worn by Su Yi (Ah Ma) at the wedding and a belt buckle for Eleanor (also originally a brooch, but used to make the dress fit Yeoh) were designed by Michelle Ong and loaned from Carnet.[67][71] Some of the other jewelry pieces, including Astrid's pearl earrings, were loaned from Mouawad, and guards were employed to protect the jewelry,[54][67] which sometimes dictated the filming.[51] The extras who attended the wedding reception were drawn from the Peranakan Association, a historical society, and were asked to wear their own vintage formal clothing to add local flavor to the party.[54][69]

Music

During the production process, Chu and music supervisor Gabe Hilfer assembled a list of hundreds of songs about money, including songs by Kanye West ("Gold Digger"), Hall & Oates ("Rich Girl"), the Notorious B.I.G. ("Mo Money Mo Problems"), Lady Gaga ("Money Honey"), and Barrett Strong ("Money (That's What I Want)").[74][75] Seeking to create a multilingual soundtrack, Chu and Hilfer compiled Chinese songs from the 1950s and 1960s by Ge Lan (Grace Chang) and Yao Lee, as well as contemporary songs, then searched through YouTube videos for singers fluent in Mandarin Chinese to provide cover versions of songs.[74] The film's soundtrack album and score album, by Brian Tyler, were both released on August 10, 2018, through WaterTower Music.[76]

Release

Constance Wu, Henry Golding, and Gemma Chan (above, from left) with Ken Jeong and Awkwafina promoting the film for MTV International.

Theatrical

Crazy Rich Asians was released in the United States on August 15, 2018, after previously having been scheduled for August 17.[77] An early screening was held in April 2018 at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, garnering strong emotional reactions from the audience; other advance screenings were held in San Francisco, Washington D.C., and New York City.[29] The film premiered on August 7, 2018 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.[78] The social media hashtag #GoldOpen was used to bring attention to the film.[79] Internationally, Crazy Rich Asians was released in Singapore on August 22, 2018,[80] and was scheduled for a later release in parts of Europe, although the planned November 2018 U.K. release date was moved forward to September 14, 2018.[81][82] Later that month, on September 28, 2018, Crazy Rich Asians released to 75 theaters in Japan.[83] In October 2018, it was announced the film would be released in China on November 30, 2018.[84]

The film was well received by Singaporean audiences, though some felt it overrepresented and dramatized the wealthy families living there.[85] Writers and producers in the British film and television industry expressed a hope that Crazy Rich Asians' positive financial reception would lead to more East Asian representation following the film's release in the United Kingdom. The film was considered especially notable due to the presecene multiple British actors of East Asian descent acting in the picture.[86]

In China, however, Crazy Rich Asians was met a tepid reception among viewers despite initial high expectations from Warner Bros. Pictures.[87] Multiple possible reasons were cited for its failure to resonate with Chinese moviegoers. The film's discussion of excessive wealth felt off-putting to audiences due to the start of an economic slowdown,[88] and the film has been compared to the Chinese film Tiny Times by some media in China,[89] and the themes of ethnic and cultural identity were unrelatable and possibly bothersome to viewers.[90] Unlike in the film's country of origin, the United States, an all-Asian cast was not considered novel in China, and the film lacked notable Chinese stars, other than Michelle Yeoh and Lisa Lu.[91] The delayed release of about three-and-a-half months was also said to have hurt ticket sales, as much of the film's potential audience had pirated it or viewed it overseas.[91] Even with its lackluster reception, a Chinese theatrical release was deemed important by producers, as China Rich Girlfriend, the second film in the series, was planned to be partially filmed in Shanghai, potentially as a Chinese co-production.[92][90]

Tourism to Singapore increased following the release of Crazy Rich Asians, attributed in part to the numerous attractions showcased in the film, such as the Marina Bay Sands and Raffles Hotel. The 2018 North Korea–United States summit held in Singapore, however, was also said to have increased tourist numbers.[93] Sales of the original novel saw an increase of about 1.5 million copies after the film's theatrical release.[94]

Home video

Crazy Rich Asians was released on digital on November 6, 2018 and on DVD, Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray on November 20, 2018. The Blu-ray Combo Pack special features include commentary by director Jon M. Chu and novelist Kwan, a gag reel, and deleted scenes.[95] As of December 9, 2018, roughly one month after the film's home video release, Crazy Rich Asians grossed an estimated $9.9 million from about 401,856 collective DVD and Blu-ray sales.[96]

Reception

Box office

Crazy Rich Asians grossed $174.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $64 million elsewhere, for a worldwide gross of $238.5 million, against a production budget of $30 million.[4] In October 2018, it became the highest-grossing romantic comedy of the last 10 years, and the 6th-highest-grossing ever.[97]

Three weeks before its United States and Canada release, Crazy Rich Asians was projected to gross $18–20 million during its five-day opening weekend.[98] By the week of its release, estimates had reached $26–30 million, with Fandango reporting pre-sale tickets were outpacing Girls Trip (which debuted to $31.2 million in July 2017).[99][100] The film held special advance screenings on August 8, 2018, and made an estimated $450,000–500,000, selling out most of its 354 theaters.[101] It then took in $5 million on its first day and $3.8 million on its second. It went on to gross $26.5 million in its opening weekend, for a five-day total of $35.2 million, finishing first at the box office. 38% of its audience was of Asian descent, which was the highest Asian makeup for a film in U.S. in the previous three years (besting The Foreigner's 18.4% in 2017).[102] In its second weekend the film made $24.8 million, a box office drop of just 6%, which Deadline Hollywood called "unbelievable."[103][104] The film continued to play well in its third weekend, making $22 million (a drop of just 10% from the previous week) and remaining in first.[105] The film was finally dethroned in its fourth weekend, finishing third behind newcomers The Nun and Peppermint with $13.1 million.[106]

In Singapore, where the film takes place, Crazy Rich Asians grossed over $5 million.[88] The first-week ticket sales for the film, $2.5 million, were considered unusually high. Large numbers of organizations and individuals buying out theaters to host screenings, as well as general interest in seeing how Hollywood portrayed the city-state, were noted as major contributors to the film's high Singaporean box office totals.[107]

The film's theatrical release in China was considered unsuccessful, finishing eighth at the box office opening weekend and losing half of its screens from Saturday to Sunday.[90] Initial reports stated that the film failed to pass one million dollars opening weekend following a combined $810,000 on Friday and Saturday,[108] but the figure was later updated to a total of $1.2 million.[92]

Critical response

Michelle Yeoh's performance as Eleanor Sung-Young received widespread critical praise.[109][110][111]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91% based on 301 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "With a terrific cast and a surfeit of visual razzle dazzle, Crazy Rich Asians takes a satisfying step forward for screen representation while deftly drawing inspiration from the classic—and still effective—rom-com formula."[112] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 74 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[113] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an 85% positive score and a 65% "definite recommend".[102]

Joe Morgenstern, writing for The Wall Street Journal, found the film to be "Bright, buoyant, and hilarious," making special note of the large number of quality performances from the cast members: "And anyone with a sense of movie history will be moved by the marvelous Ms. Yeoh, who was so memorable as the love-starved fighter in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and by 91-year-old Lisa Lu, who plays Nick's grandmother and the matriarch of his family. Anyone, in this case, means anyone. Crazy Rich Asians includes us all".[114] Ann Hornaday, writing for The Washington Post, deemed the film a "escapist rom-com delight" and remarked that "It will more than satisfy the sweet tooth of romantic comedy fans everywhere who have lately despaired that the frothy, frolicsome genre they adore has been subsumed by raunch and various shades of gray"; she also compared the film's rom-com themes to Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).[115]

Time magazine published an extended cultural review of the film by Karen Ho, which compared the high fashion appeal of the film to rival the best of previous films such as The Devil Wears Prada. Ho summarizes the film's success as a notable uphill battle against the season's predominantly superhero oriented audiences: "To many in Hollywood, Crazy Rich Asians might look like a risky bet. It's the first modern story with an all-Asian cast and an Asian-American lead in 25 years; the last Joy Luck Club, was in 1993. It's an earnest romantic comedy in a sea of action and superhero films...In fact, it seems destined to be a hit."[116] In the same magazine, Stephanie Zacharek called the film as "simply great fun, a winsome romantic comedy and an occasionally over-the-top luxury fantasy that never flags," while at the same time hailing the film as a breakthrough in representation and lauded the performances and chemistry of Wu and Golding as well as the supporting performances (particularly Yeoh, Ken Jeong, Nico Santos and Awkwafina).[117]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film four stars out of five; he called it "frothy fun" and a "hilarious, heartfelt blast" while hailing the film as "making history" in its cultural representation in mainstream cinema and highlighting the performances (particularly Yeoh, whose performance he called "layered").[118] Writing for Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper described the film as a "pure escapist fantasy fun" and "24-karat entertainment" while praising Wu's and Golding's performances and chemistry, and complimented Golding's natural onscreen presence and his good sense of comedic timing.[119] David Sims of The Atlantic lauded the film as a "breath of fresh air" and a "charming throwback" to the classic romantic comedy films while commending Chu's direction, the "hyperactive" screenplay, and the performances of Wu and Yeoh.[120]

Justin Chang in a review for the Los Angeles Times found the film worthy of comparison to other notable films using an Asian ensemble cast including Memoirs of a Geisha, Letters from Iwo Jima, and The Joy Luck Club. Chang found the supporting cast performance of Michelle Yeoh to be exceptional, stating "you can't help but hang on Eleanor's (Michelle Yeoh's) every word. In a crisp, authoritative, sometimes startlingly vulnerable performance that never lapses into dragon-lady stereotype, Yeoh brilliantly articulates the unique relationship between Asian parents and their children, the intricate chain of love, guilt, devotion and sacrifice that binds them for eternity".[109]

In his review for The New York Times, A. O. Scott indicates that the film's appeal surpasses contemporary social mores dealing with wealth and touches on themes examined in the literature of "endless luxury" over the centuries stating that this is "...part of the film's sly and appealing old-fashionedness. Without betraying any overt nostalgia, Crazy Rich Asians casts a fond eye backward as well as Eastward, conjuring a world defined by hierarchies and prescribed roles in a way that evokes classic novels and films. Its keenest romantic impulse has less to do with Nick and Rachel's rather pedestrian love story than with the allure of endless luxury and dynastic authority. Which I guess is pretty modern after all".[121] Peter Debruge of Variety wrote that the movie "expertly manages to balance the opulence of incalculable wealth with the pragmatic, well-grounded sensibility" of its protagonist; he also drew comparisons of the film's visual style and tone to Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby (2013) as well to the wedding sequence in Mamma Mia! (2008).[122] Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph gave the film four stars out of five, and wrote that the film was "a mouthwatering slice of deluxe romcom escapism" and "plays like a Jane Austen novel crossed with a Mr. & Mrs. Smith brochure" while lending his praise on the performances of Wu, Golding, Yeoh, and Awkwafina.[123]

Scott Mendelson, writing for Forbes, found the film to be below average and to have an uneven plot line with contrived humor similar to his opinion of the 2002 film My Big Fat Greek Wedding stating: "Without having read the book, I might argue that the core flaw of Crazy Rich Asians is that it's so determined to be the Asian-American version of the conventional Hollywood romantic comedy that it becomes a deeply conventional romantic comedy, complete with the bad, the good and the generic tropes. It's well-acted and offers plenty of cultural specificity, but the supporting characters are thin and the need to be universal hobbles its drama".[124]

He was joined in his criticism by Kate Taylor of The Globe and Mail, who wrote: "As the obscenities of wealth accumulate while a large cast of Asian and Eurasian actors render their many silly characters, the source of the laughter becomes troubling."[125] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter gave a mixed review, in which he criticized the film's pacing as "uneven" but nevertheless similarly praised the performances and chemistry of Wu and Golding, and singled out Wu's performance as the film's real heart.[126] Tony Wong of Toronto Star argued the film "doesn't blow away stereotypes. It reinforces them. There is little room for subtlety here—the title underlines the mission statement. Asians are rich, vulgar and clueless."[127]

Casting criticism

Although the film has been lauded in the United States for featuring a predominantly Asian cast,[128] it was criticized elsewhere for casting biracial and non-Chinese actors in ethnically Chinese roles.[129] The film was also criticized for having characters speak British English and American English over Singaporean English.[130][131] In addition, the film has received criticism for poorly representing the actual makeup of Singapore by virtually erasing non-Chinese citizens.[132][133]

Lead actors

The casting of biracial actor Henry Golding, who is of Malaysian Iban and English descent, as the Chinese Singaporean character Nick Young was highly controversial, drawing accusations of colorism. The casting of Sonoya Mizuno, a multiracial actress of Japanese, Argentinian and English ancestry, as Araminta Lee, another Singaporean Chinese character, also attracted criticism. Korean American actress Jamie Chung, who had auditioned for a role but was turned down allegedly for not being "ethnically Chinese", responded to a question about Golding's casting with "That is some bullshit. Where do you draw the line to be ethnically conscious? But there's so many loopholes..." in an interview published on April 24, 2017.[134] Chung's remarks were met with backlash on social media, with some accusing her of being biased against Eurasians and noting that she had previously played Mulan, an ethnic Chinese character, in the television series Once Upon a Time,[135][136] causing Chung to clarify her comments on social media.[135] Chung subsequently apologized to Golding for her comments, which he accepted.[137] She later expressed her support for Crazy Rich Asians and its cast, stating that because of them "there will be other projects [...] that will be full Asian casts."[138]

Golding initially called the criticism towards his casting "quite hurtful",[139] but was later more open towards criticism as he felt that there "should be a conversation about it",[140] while Mizuno said that the criticism towards her casting "pissed [her] off".[141] Several of Golding's costars also defended his casting, with Ronny Chieng declaring that Golding was "more Malaysian than most Malaysians"[142] while Awkwafina jokingly stated it would have been bad only if the producers had cast Emma Stone as Nick, referring to the 2015 film Aloha.[143]

Sociologist and the author of Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism, Nancy Wang Yuen, defended Golding's casting, surmising that criticism was fueled out of racial purity. By deeming Golding "not Asian enough", detractors were choosing to ignore his Asian heritage. Yuen contrasted Golding's situation to the public perception of former U.S. President Barack Obama, who is also biracial. She noted how "the world sees President Obama as black, but his mother is white" and called out the double standard in "[erasing] Golding's Asian ancestry while obliterating Obama's white ancestry."[144]

Director Jon M. Chu defended his decision to cast Golding, stating that questions about the cast and particularly Golding made him uneasy,[145] later acknowledging:

John Lui, an ethnic Chinese Singaporean reporter for The Straits Times, criticized the casting, opining that a single drop of Asian blood was enough for Hollywood, who was motivated to cast Golding (an "ethnically ambiguous face") because of his appeal to a wide variety of audiences. Lui tempered his criticism, stating "it is wrong to sort actors into 'Asian' and 'not Asian enough' piles".[129] Nick Chen of The Independent also spoke negatively about the casting, labeling Golding's casting as whitewashing gone unnoticed by critics and moviegoers. Chung's initial comments were cited as one of the few instances of backlash.[146]

Ethnic representation of Singapore

In contrast to those calling for Chinese or East Asian actors to fill its roles, others, particularly those in Asian countries, expressed disappointment in the film's lack of ethnic South and Southeast Asians, who have prominent presence in Singapore.[147][148] Kirsten Han, a Singaporean journalist, said that the film "obscur[ed] the Malay, Indian, and Eurasian (and more) populations who make the country the culturally rich and unique place that it is."[149] Some were critical towards the omission of the country's Malays and Indians—the second and third largest ethnic groups in Singapore, respectively—thus not representing its multiracial population accurately.[150]

The film's scene at the Newton Food Centre (pictured) received criticisms for its lack of cultural diversity when showing vendors and the food they serve.[151]

Ian Chong, a political scientist at the National University of Singapore, commented that the film "represents the worst of Singapore. Erases minorities. Erases the poor and marginalized. All you get are rich, privileged ethnic Chinese."[148] Alfian Sa'at, a Malay Singaporean poet and playwright, commented on the film's title, referring to it as "Crazy Rich EAST Asians", and adding "Does a win for representation mean replacing white people with white people wannabes[?]"[152] Multiple critics also criticized the comedic scene in which the characters Rachel Chu and Peik Lin were frightened by Gurkha guards, noting that "the presentation of brown men as scary predators is played for laughs",[153] is "blind to racial politics in Singapore",[154] and presented a "buffoonish performance [that is] as excruciating as Mickey Rooney's as the Japanese photographer living above Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's."[132] However, one commenter noted that the book which the film is based on "is aware of its lack of minority representation [and] actually alludes to the closed minded attitude of some social circles in Singapore. One of the family members got disowned for marrying a Malay."[155]

Other critics defended the film's portrayal of ethnic representation. Ilyas Sholihyn, a Malay Singaporean writing for Coconuts, stated that "it’s hard to imagine the story is even relatable to most Chinese Singaporeans" due to film's focus on the extremely wealthy, noting that Crazy Rich Asians was not made for native Singaporeans, but rather "a high-fantasy Hollywood film made for maximum appeal to East Asian-Americans". She did, however, criticize the film for certain decisions regarding representation, notably that the scene of at the Newton Food Centre lacked cultural diversity in the chefs and food portrayed, and the roles for the limited number of non-Chinese Singaporeans, such as guards and valets, suffered from tokenism.[151] Surekha A. Yadav of the Malay Mail defended the film's lack of diversity, describing it as an accurate portrayal of Chinese Singaporeans, particularly wealthy ones, who, per statistics from the Institute of Policy Studies, have minimal and even discriminatory interactions with Singaporean minority groups. Regarding the film specifically, Yadav explained that "it is the extremely privileged edge of this upper segment of Singapore society that Crazy Rich Asians depicts. In reality, this is a world where minorities play a very small role."[156]

Accolades

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards February 24, 2019 Best Original Score Brian Tyler Shortlisted [157]
American Cinema Editors Awards February 1, 2019 Best Edited Feature Film – Comedy or Musical Myron Kerstein Nominated [158]
Art Directors Guild Awards February 2, 2019 Best Production Design in a Contemporary Film Crazy Rich Asians Won [159]
Costume Designers Guild Awards February 19, 2019 Excellence in Contemporary Film Mary E. Vogt Won [160]
Critics' Choice Awards January 13, 2019 Best Acting Ensemble Crazy Rich Asians Nominated [161]
Best Comedy Won
Best Actress in a Comedy Constance Wu Nominated
Best Production Design Nelson Coates, Andrew Baseman Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society December 3, 2018 Best Ensemble Crazy Rich Asians Nominated [162]
Gold Derby Awards February 20, 2019 Best Breakthrough Performer Awkwafina Nominated [163]
Best Costume Design Mary E. Vogt Nominated
Best Ensemble Crazy Rich Asians Nominated
Golden Globe Awards January 6, 2019 Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated [164]
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical Constance Wu Nominated
Hollywood Film Awards November 4, 2018 Breakout Ensemble Award Crazy Rich Asians Honoree [165]
Humanitas Prize February 8, 2019 Comedy Feature Film Nominated [166]
International Cinematographers Guild Publicists Awards February 22, 2019 Maxwell Weinberg Publicist Showmanship of the Year – Motion Picture Won [167]
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards February 16, 2019 Best Contemporary Make-Up Heike Merker, Irina Strukova Nominated [168]
Best Contemporary Hair Styling Heike Merker, Sophia Knight Won
National Board of Review January 8, 2019 Best Acting By an Ensemble Crazy Rich Asians Won [169]
People's Choice Awards November 11, 2018 The Comedy Movie of 2018 Nominated [170][171]
The Comedy Movie Star of 2018 Awkwafina Shortlisted
Constance Wu Shortlisted
Producers Guild of America Awards January 19, 2019 Best Theatrical Motion Picture Crazy Rich Asians – Nina Jacobson & Brad Simpson, John Penotti Nominated [172]
San Diego Film Critics Society December 10, 2018 Best Comedic Performance Awkwafina Nominated [173]
Best Costume Design Mary E. Vogt Nominated
Satellite Awards February 17, 2019 Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical Crazy Rich Asians Nominated [174]
Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy/Musical Constance Wu Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards January 27, 2019 Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Crazy Rich Asians Nominated [175]

Sequels

Director Jon M. Chu said he would be eager to direct a sequel if the first film was a success, stating, "We have other stories outside of the Crazy Rich Asians world that are ready to be told too, from filmmakers and storytellers who haven't had their stories told yet."[78]

On August 22, 2018, following the film's strong opening, Warner Bros. Pictures confirmed a sequel was in development, with Chiarelli and Lim returning to write the script, based on the book's sequel, China Rich Girlfriend. Chu and actors Wu, Golding, and Yeoh all have options for a sequel, although several of the key actors are committed to other projects until 2020.[116][176][177] Producer Nina Jacobson later announced that China Rich Girlfriend and an adaptation of the final installment in Kwan's trilogy, Rich People Problems, will be filmed back-to-back in 2020 to reduce the wait time between those two films.[178]

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 While Astrid's full name is "Astrid Leong-Teo" in the novel, she is listed in the credits of the film as "Astrid Young Teo".[10] Similarly, her mother Felicity's full name has been changed from "Felicity Young-Leong" in the novel to "Felicity Young" in the film.[11]

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