News

Crazy Rich Asians Early Reviews: Could this 100% Fresh Flick Save the Rom-Com?

Plus, first thoughts on its landmark place in Hollywood history.

by | August 9, 2018 | Comments

(Photo by © Warner Bros.)

Meet Crazy Rich Asians, the film with more baggage and built-in expectations than just about any this year (and yes, we’re including Infinity War). CRA has to satisfy fans of Kevin Kwan’s insanely popular book series. CRA has to save the rom-com, a genre which has been flailing on the big screen – if not on Netflix – for quite some time now. And CRA arrives with a huge burden of representation: It is the first wide release with an Asian-American lead cast since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club. Hopes, expectations, and even fears, are high – fairly or otherwise.

If early reviews are anything to go by, Crazy Rich Asians is set to deliver on a number of fronts. The embargo broke this Wednesday, a week out from the movie’s release on August 15, and with 34 reviews counted, it is sitting at 100% on the Tomatometer [Updated August 13]. Critics are talking breathlessly about the extravagance of Jon M. Chu’s film – costumes! beaches! wealthy parties! – and incisively about the film’s representational burden. But most of all they’re saying that the movie, which stars Fresh Off the Boat breakout star Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, “it” guy Henry Golding, and features Ocean’s 8 scene-stealer Awkwafina, is an A-plus example of old-school unironic rom-coms. Here’s a breakdown of first reactions.


Will Rom-Com Fans Love It?

“Ultimately, the film delivers as a blockbuster romantic comedy: It’s joyous, decadent, and yes, extremely predictable. But seeing new characters inhabit and thrive within a story we’ve seen countless times before is a major achievement in itself.” – Anne Cohen, Refinery29

“What makes it so genuinely uplifting, however, is the establishment of the central relationship as a union between partners determined to remain on equal footing, far more concerned with each other’s mutual happiness than with all the wealth and luxury that stands between them.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“If you have ever seen a rom-com, you will figure out where this is going, and Crazy Rich Asians happily goes there, full of all the best staples of the genre: a sassy best friend (the hilarious Awkwafina, stealing the movie with her delivery of “Daaaamn, Rachel”), an insanely over-the-top wedding scene (involving a water aisle, for heaven’s sake), and loads of moments in which someone has a crisis while wearing a fabulous outfit.” – Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times


How Does It Compare to the Books?

(Photo by © Warner Bros.)

“Fans of Kwan’s books will not be disappointed by Chu’s adaptation, as Crazy Rich Asians lovingly brings to life some of the novel’s standout scenes, even as Chiarelli and Lim’s screenplay snips away subplots that detract from Rachel’s journey.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“The movie is less satirical in tone than Kwan’s novel; as a result it has the necessary depth of feeling to make us root for the beleaguered lovebirds to beat the odds and make a go of it.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“The tart tone has been replaced with a sweeter, more rom-com-friendly one, and my own favorite character, the glamorous Astrid (Gemma Chan), has been given so little screen time that you wonder why she’s even there at all.” – Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times


Is It As Visually Stunning as the trailer?

“[Chu] and cinematographer Vanja Cernjul nail the porcelain elegance and the gilded vulgarity that often define obscene wealth, whether they’re framing the lovely green-walled interiors of the Young family homestead or turning a gaudy wedding reception into a Baz Luhrmann hallucination.” – Justin Chang, LA Times


The “Rich” Opulence: Should I Indulge or is it Problematic?

“…like so much subject matter that’s seen an uphill battle in getting its time in the mainstream limelight — BDSM sex, for instance — it’s clear nobody had faith in a fluffy rom-com about the lives and loves of Asian people going down smoothly without a heaping spoonful of affluence porn.” – Emily Yoshida, Vulture

Crazy Rich Asians is novel for being an American studio movie that shows us a different horror of excess. But it’s still excess, and the movie’s wan barbs are not enough to counter all the celebration. The film gives you the odd opportunity to feel swoony and gross at the same time, carried away by the lavishness while also knowing it’s wrong.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“Hollywood stories about the immigrant experience so often focus on poverty, and the struggle to build up the American dream from nothing (usually with the help of a well-meaning white character). But there’s no pity here, only aspiration, and it’s a refreshing perspective.” – Anne Cohen, Refinery29

“It’s a sybaritic celebration of high-end travel, food, architecture, decor and fashion, but it somehow eschews the vulgarity of conspicuous consumerism. There’s flashy excess aplenty, but at the story’s core, Trumpian ostentation takes a backseat to proud tradition, family honor, friendship and, most of all, love.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter


 Who Steals the Show?

(Photo by © Warner Bros.)

“[Constance Wu] and Awkwafina — used to stellar effect here, more or less stealing the film — are a fine pair of outsiders making the rounds at a party in Nick’s childhood home; Rachel is bemused and terrified while Paik Lin gawks and takes selfies.” – Emily Yoshida, Vulture

“Wu and Yeoh are perfectly cast in this at-odds relationship, and share crackling chemistry that often threatens to overshadow the romantic relationship they’re fighting over.” – Anne Cohen, Refinery29

“Rachel is about to be fed to the sharks, and Wu’s buoyant, bright-eyed performance makes her impossible not to root for, especially as the inevitable unfolds on screen.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire


How Does it Stand as a Landmark Film?

“Images and ideas matter; so do sounds and smells, textures and politics. I can’t remember the last time Hollywood produced a Cinderella fantasy with a mouth-watering foodie montage at an open-air hawker market, or a makeover sequence scored to a Cantopop cover of ‘Material Girl.’ These may be incidental pleasures, but they’re no less significant than the movie’s distinct emphasis on family, as we see when the Youngs gather to make dumplings together, in a scene that brings the central dramatic tension painfully to the fore.” – Justin Chang, LA Times

“But Crazy Rich Asians has also been greeted as an exciting, if distressingly rare, event. Watching the film and its lively ensemble, one gets frustrated thinking of all the time Hollywood has spent saying it would hire diversely if only it could find the talent. If I may gesture broadly at this film.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“Studio films with minority leads tend to downplay the impact of the culture they bring with them… Not here — from Brian Tyler’s score, which takes pop songs — most memorably Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ — and gives them a Chinese instrumental twist, to a cast the director has called ‘the Avengers of f–king [Asian] actors,’ the entire film heavily leans into its specificity with a zest that’s infectious. Crazy Rich Asians is here to celebrate in a big way.” – Anne Cohen, Refinery29


Crazy Rich Asians is in theaters August 15

Tag Cloud

discovery Columbia Pictures Tomatazos NBC Grammys Amazon Britbox Certified Fresh E3 Biopics Mystery romance Superheroes MTV docudrama E! SXSW Disney jamie lee curtis 45 WGN serial killer RT History Esquire police drama Cosplay political drama Toys zombie Nat Geo USA Nickelodeon ABC Comics on TV Reality Competition FX Syfy Trailer travel cops based on movie vampires Netflix Premiere Dates Animation singing competition TCM American Society of Cinematographers Sundance Now Reality harry potter Character Guide CMT ESPN ABC Family talk show VH1 The CW Rock Ovation medical drama Martial Arts war Trophy Talk Comic Book TNT Red Carpet Photos green book facebook Countdown The Arrangement FOX Rocky diversity hist 21st Century Fox crime drama spy thriller TCA Cartoon Network Kids & Family DC Comics Music Creative Arts Emmys See It Skip It Bravo National Geographic Valentine's Day historical drama spider-man Showtime CBS Horror zombies binge Fall TV 2019 Awards Box Office Video Games Oscars Mary Poppins Returns Apple Polls and Games Pop Teen 2017 Best and Worst LGBTQ CNN Awards Tour Acorn TV comiccon cinemax Hulu Black Mirror dceu technology Lionsgate Superheroe Rom-Com Ghostbusters sports GIFs aliens PBS golden globes Christmas Summer comic USA Network blaxploitation Logo Chilling Adventures of Sabrina DC streaming service streaming YA Calendar Interview Shondaland OWN Lifetime Set visit festivals X-Men TruTV Pixar award winner Thanksgiving Extras SundanceTV Nominations cooking San Diego Comic-Con boxoffice justice league Star Trek dramedy TCA 2017 Universal Fantasy adventure supernatural miniseries Marathons History Adult Swim ITV Sneak Peek 20th Century Fox Fox News Epix Spike crime thriller DirecTV Paramount BBC America Western what to watch BET GoT Drama Schedule Comedy Central Infographic YouTube Premium Quiz Year in Review Trivia unscripted FXX Mary poppins TV Land finale First Look robots Star Wars Spring TV 2016 Mindy Kaling AMC Lucasfilm TV cats Shudder Musical GLAAD A&E Walt Disney Pictures sitcom Pirates cults Comedy crossover Paramount Network President 2018 Sony Pictures New York Comic Con Dark Horse Comics 2015 MSNBC dc social media Emmys Winter TV thriller Watching Series Action Holidays El Rey Crackle Food Network Winners TLC TIFF Super Bowl transformers crime Disney Channel politics Ellie Kemper YouTube Red NYCC Country 24 frames Writers Guild of America IFC Films VICE SDCC Musicals 007 biography IFC ratings Marvel television Sci-Fi Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Starz period drama TBS psycho Opinion Freeform composers PaleyFest Tumblr HBO Song of Ice and Fire APB anime mutant Masterpiece Mary Tyler Moore science fiction Podcast BBC Sundance Election CW Seed CBS All Access DC Universe doctor who Warner Bros.