CRAZY RICH ASIANS REVIEWED
“Crazy Rich Asians” finally hits theaters after weeks of test screenings, early sneak peek screenings and generally trying to get most of America to watch it early. Now that it arrives after an endless YouTube and Fandango social media push, what is there to say? I’ll pause for a moment, while the Woke Shitlords start their Friday Box Office game of Mad Libs. Are we good? Let’s begin.
SOME MOVIES BELONG ON NETFLIX
“Taking it to the theater, it’s a symbol that a Hollywood studio system thinks it has value, and we were all in a position in our careers where we didn’t need the money anyway.”
Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu (via Vulture)
The problem with the romantic comedy is the formula. There was a point when studios could take turns swatting one out every 6-8 weeks and audiences would push it to a respectable profit. Hell, some even hit the zeitgeist and became huge cultural splashes. Then came the modern era, where everyone thought their little darling was going to be the next Tootsie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding or Smokin’ Aces (it’s a romantic comedy, trust me on this). Now, we live in a world where studios have to think long and hard about what goes to Netflix/home video and what goes theatrical wide.
Honestly, it’s a numbers game that is just going to get slimmer and slimmer as technology changes our world. Out of the studios remaining, the average output is somewhere in the ballpark of 12-14 films a year. Multiple that by 6 majors and you have at least 72 films going wide alongside a litany of indie films and Fathom Events. While America still has an insane number of theaters, they’re being eaten alive by blockbusters swallowing 4-5 screens a piece. The room is narrow and it lives little air for smaller films to get attention. But, let’s focus on the content for a moment.
MICHELLE YEOH MAKES THIS MOVIE WATCHABLE
Michelle Yeoh deserves more. She’s been defining the Eastern action scene for decades and trying to break into bigger roles in the West. While she gets an amazing amount of face time in everything from Bond to Star Trek, it just never seems to make her a household name. “Crazy Rich Asians” won’t do that either, but it’s a soft hit to the base and it will get brownie points from the sympathetic. That still irks me, because it means more people will be overlooking a tremendous performance.
Hell, I’ll go so far as to say that Yeoh’s role as Eleanor Young is what gives the movie legs. Constance Wu wear super thin as the passive aggressive Meg Ryan type trying to prove herself, while also backhanding a lot of Eleanor’s world. While watching the movie, I was reminded of that scene in 30 Rock where Liz Lemon learns the truth about her High School years. Basically, when you automatically set people as villains, don’t be surprised when they act bitchy to you.
That being said, if I had an Asian dramatic equivalent…I would have used it. But, for now…we live in a world of too many Liz Lemons trying to dictate their views to an indifferent planet. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to be a Liz Lemon. It means that if you sour-puss your way through life and act like others existing bothers you, don’t be surprised when people ignore you. What’s funny about that is an hour and change into the film, the movie becomes self-aware and forces the Young family into liking Rachel Chu. I know there has to be a ton of cut scenes there and I’d love to see that on Blu-ray.
Michelle Yeoh works in the time she gets by calling out Constance Wu’s character. It’s not that she’s lower class, it is that she is abrasive and tries to force herself into a world she doesn’t understand. Love can move mountains in all of that, but it doesn’t solve everything. Yeoh gets to play the bearer of bad news with a grace unseen in 99% of romantic comedies, yet people will assume she’s the villain.
IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE SOURCE MATERIAL, THE DRESSING WON’T MATTER
Orson Welles was instrumental in staging ethnocentric stage performances during the Depression. The same theater crowds came out and cheered on the Federal Theater Project for being so damn brave. If the intention was to make the average minority feel a deeper connection to Shakespeare, then it didn’t work. Older texts quickly fall out of favor with the vulgar masses. That’s why you have to dress things up to reiterate the same story formulas that keep humanity from just picking each other off one-by-one.
The romantic comedy while much derided, still has a base in females of all ages and backgrounds. It’s a fantasy not unlike the usual claptrap that men get to sort through like Scooge McDuck golden showering himself in his money bin. With most fantasies, ties to reality get cut off to give purpose to what matters. That being, an average girl wants to marry a rich man and live happy ever after. You can add on the first all-Asian major motion picture cast since 1993 and whatever else you want, but it won’t matter. This film remains your textbook standard romantic comedy.
CRAZY RICH ASIANS BEGETS MORE NETFLIX MATERIAL
Netflix isn’t left in the dust, as they are releasing “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”. The film is a YA adaptation featuring Lana Condor in the lead. It’s a quiet teen friendly comedy-drama stylized in a fresh modern way, yet evoking things like Sixteen Candles. That last part is funny, as the movie assesses what Gedde Watanabe was doing in that movie and decries it 34 years later. While I’m not a big fan of trying to attack the past from the present, it was handled far more effectively in “To All The Boys” than most modern fare.
So, if you can’t make it out to theaters, then stay in with Netflix and watch something that sticks closer to its source origins. If you’re a reader, then feel free to complain about the Crazy Rich Asians movie cut out so many essential book characters. I feel that a lot of viewers are misreading what the grandmother was doing in the book onto Michelle Yeoh’s character. But, we can discuss that later in Book Club.
- 2 hours
- Warner Brothers