They say the third time’s the charm and that just might be true for Crazy Rich Asians.
The surprise hit of the summer just won its third weekend in a row following its Labor Day haul. This is significant not just from a financial standpoint, but a cultural one as well. It shows that people are hungry for not only well told stories, but diverse ones too.
I saw Crazy Rich Asians a few weeks ago and I admit, as a person who is not usually a fan of rom-coms, I really enjoyed this one. In some ways, it’s a 2018 reboot of Cinderella. Only in this case, the ‘poor girl’ is Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an NYU professor who finds out her boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) is not just some average guy playing pick-up basketball at the YMCA. For Nick, unbeknownst to Rachel, comes from a very wealthy family in Singapore whom she is just beginning to know.
Over the course of the film, we see Rachel interact with Nick’s extended family, while grappling with her own identity and how she fits in with everything. There’s an interesting twist towards the end that brings the past and present into focus and gives the film a strong emotional punch. I definitely recommend those of you reading this who have not seen it yet, to give it a look.
As many have stated elsewhere, this really is the first Hollywood studio film to be released featuring an Asian American cast in 25 years, since the Joy Luck Club. 25 years is a really long time. I’m just old enough to vaguely remember 1993 and I can’t imagine going to the movies for over two decades and not seeing people who look like me on the big screen. While there have been other films released by Asian American filmmakers during that gap (2002’s Better Luck Tomorrow comes to mind) the paucity of roles available to them within the Hollywood system is deafening.
Will the successful release of Crazy Rich Asians change any of this? Only time will tell, but the truth is, one film shouldn’t have to bear the burden of representation for an entire community. Hopefully, Crazy Rich Asians is the start of more doors being opened for Asian filmmakers and various other groups as well. For no one should feel that seeing themselves onscreen, is little more than a fairy tale dream.