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'Crazy Rich Asians' serves up auspicious mix of romance, laughs

"Crazy Rich Asians" understandably feels like an occasion -- a big, colorful coming-out party for Asian (and...

Posted: Aug 9, 2018 12:10 PM
Updated: Aug 9, 2018 12:11 PM

"Crazy Rich Asians" understandably feels like an occasion -- a big, colorful coming-out party for Asian (and especially Asian-American) talent. Set aside the cultural significance, though, and director Jon M. Chu has delivered a highly satisfying, decidedly old-fashioned romantic comedy, garnished with soapy elements and enough mouth-watering shots of food to inspire a big meal before or after.

Bringing Kevin Kwan's hit novel to the screen, "Crazy Rich Asians" gets the most important part of the movie very right, casting Constance Wu ("Fresh Off the Boat") as Rachel Chu -- the New York economics professor thrust into a world of staggering opulence, and almost-to-scale sniping and judgment -- and Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor, the imperious mother of Rachel's otherwise-perfect boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding, making a strong bid for romantic heartthrob status).

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Somehow, Nick has managed to shield Rachel from the fact that he's the heir to one of Singapore's wealthiest families, and thus a kind of royalty. So she's in for a rude awakening when she accompanies him on a trip home for his best friend's wedding, meeting his extended, eccentric relatives as part of the bargain.

"His parents can't not like me, right?" she asks before they leave.

Based on Rachel's resume, one would think not. But that's before she encounters the tradition-bound Youngs, amid a whirlwind trip filled with plenty of detours, most designed to show off Singapore (the tourism bureau should be over the moon), delectable dishes and dazzling opulence.

That includes not just the old-money trappings that the Youngs embody, but also Rachel's irrepressible college friend Peik Lin (Awkwafina, having a moment after her "Ocean's 8" role) and her nouveau-riche family, offering Ken Jeong a chance to join the festivities.

In terms of recent movies, "Crazy Rich Asians" has a bit in common with "Fifty Shades of Grey," to the extent that Rachel falls for a super-rich guy with a high degree of difficulty built into the relationship -- there, his dominant-submissive appetites; here, his disapproving mom and the prying eyes of those encircling them.

Thanks to Kwan's book, though, Chu and writers Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim have a rich assortment of characters to mine, and the latitude to flesh out the central romance with subplots like the strained marriage of Nick's cousin Astrid ("Humans" star Gemma Chan). Moreover, that's all set against a lavish backdrop of parties, dinners and eventually the wedding -- accompanied, cleverly, by Chinese versions of pop tunes like Madonna's "Material Girl."

Wu provides a perfect surrogate for the audience in her wide-eyed reaction to it all, able to pull off the Cinderella riffs while exhibiting the grit to weather being reluctantly placed under the microscope. Yeoh, meanwhile, speaks volumes with just a withering stare that packs as much punch as any of her action roles.

Of course, because of Hollywood's shoddy history with Asian actors, the movie's mere existence is being heralded as a breakthrough. After stereotypes, best-friend roles and white actors playing lead Asian characters, seeing a major U.S. studio throw its resources behind a film with a virtually all-Asian cast brings with it an added dimension of trailblazing scrutiny.

That's a lot of baggage, but like almost everything else in this meticulously appointed film, "Crazy Rich Asians" wears it well. And while those who know a bit about Chinese culture will recognize that the review embargo corresponds with an auspicious date, by crafting such a broadly appealing movie, the filmmakers have seemingly made their own luck.

"Crazy Rich Asians" premieres Aug. 15 in the U.S. It's rated PG-13.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1130719

Reported Deaths: 17736
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1468762242
Lake732391255
Allen68004883
Hamilton51739488
St. Joseph50459650
Elkhart40619547
Vanderburgh34963497
Tippecanoe31212276
Johnson27963467
Hendricks26585385
Porter25969387
Madison21318457
Clark20392279
Vigo19244309
LaPorte17405261
Delaware17004303
Howard16942315
Monroe16794220
Kosciusko14447167
Hancock13259186
Bartholomew13180191
Warrick12320190
Wayne12200269
Grant12181247
Floyd12096226
Morgan10552192
Boone9966124
Noble9429123
Marshall9295147
Henry9268169
Dearborn9053100
Dubois8877140
Shelby8402130
Cass8241128
Lawrence8134185
DeKalb7933109
Jackson779993
Huntington7761116
Montgomery7213123
Gibson7179118
Harrison7031100
Knox6958116
Steuben676589
Miami6675114
Whitley667260
Putnam651286
Clinton633179
Wabash6323111
Jasper622192
Jefferson5946105
Ripley565994
Adams547981
Daviess5124118
Scott498980
Wells4894106
White486069
Greene4749101
Clay468662
Decatur4659110
Fayette462597
Jennings457167
LaGrange432291
Posey412944
Randolph4010107
Washington393656
Fountain382264
Fulton368374
Spencer365147
Starke361474
Owen358577
Sullivan351155
Jay336450
Orange335272
Rush314833
Carroll301639
Franklin295244
Perry292853
Vermillion285958
Tipton253367
Parke251630
Pike251244
Blackford224944
Pulaski213759
Newton185052
Brown179750
Benton171717
Crawford170729
Martin152619
Switzerland149412
Warren137816
Union125116
Ohio92913
Unassigned0599

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1735925

Reported Deaths: 26851
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1807941843
Cuyahoga1705042655
Hamilton1146441544
Montgomery811601405
Summit728891210
Lucas637861027
Butler57319814
Stark544971183
Lorain42941645
Warren36238417
Mahoning36168788
Lake32818501
Clermont31601369
Trumbull27766620
Delaware27462185
Licking26929344
Medina26408353
Fairfield24875287
Greene24585373
Clark22391390
Portage21591283
Richland21339342
Wood20348248
Allen19172326
Miami17486352
Columbiana17078335
Muskingum16882207
Wayne15914307
Tuscarawas14631362
Marion13477196
Ashtabula12980237
Erie12832199
Scioto12586188
Pickaway12326155
Ross11824226
Hancock11659175
Geauga11090179
Lawrence10729172
Belmont10548234
Huron9891159
Jefferson9724228
Union966575
Sandusky9465166
Seneca9020161
Knox8893176
Washington8738159
Darke8446181
Athens842897
Ashland8130152
Auglaize8042120
Shelby7575135
Defiance7431117
Crawford7376150
Fulton7284113
Brown7225116
Logan7087111
Guernsey701786
Mercer6964100
Highland6822120
Clinton6554106
Williams655299
Madison653990
Preble6343140
Putnam6300122
Jackson586597
Champaign586187
Perry571279
Coshocton5700108
Ottawa5696102
Morrow524665
Fayette499072
Hardin4960100
Gallia475878
Van Wert470895
Pike468478
Adams4638110
Henry440380
Hocking414293
Holmes4044141
Wyandot379975
Carroll373678
Paulding327551
Meigs307961
Monroe237261
Noble221949
Morgan219439
Harrison216953
Vinton189738
Unassigned06
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After a cold start to the week, warmer air begins to filter back into the region Wednesday.
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