Hi everyone! Steven here. For a while now, we realized that our podcast can only do so much with 3 people handling things so, we decided to add more contributors into our crew. Today, we’re featuring L.B. The writer is another schoolmate of ours but, you won’t be hearing from them on the podcast as they prefer to be a mystery. 😉
None of us are getting paid for this so it’s all for the sake of having fun and filling our lives with things outside of work.
Recently, I uploaded a review of Crazy Rich Asians and L.B. proposed to make a counter review. I gladly accepted their offer and I believe they made a better review than I could.
Anyway, here’s our movie reviewer, L.B.
I haven’t read the book where this movie was based on and all other works of Kevin Kwan. I’m sharing my opinion that is purely based on what I saw on the screen.
I am not discrediting the significance of this movie being made by an asian cast and director, based on an asian writer’s novels and what that means in terms of having more diversity in Hollywood. I am not discrediting what it means to American and Global culture to have representation like that when it comes to having a leading man/woman and a story that doesn’t have a biased and revisionist take on historical occurrences that have contributed to the erosion of asian identity and culture in american movies and stories. I rejoiced in the success of the film and I am hoping that there will be more opportunities for diversity in this new generation Hollywood.
I hated the movie. For a romantic – comedy, it was neither funny or romantic. I hated that they didn’t push the boundaries of the genre far enough. The movie is just a modern day Cinderella story, not so rich girl meets super “prince” of his family and the villains are just the in laws.
Now as to why I hated the movie brace yourself for the stream of consciousness where I basically kept overthinking about the plot, themes and characters.
I didn’t want for this movie to be just so- so and for it’s greatest success is just the fact that it was made the way it was with the people that made it. I wanted more since this was such a huge milestone for representation of Asian stories in western culture.
The character of Henry Golding, Nick Young was not a good boyfriend! He basically abandoned Constance Wu’s character, Rachel Chu to face his family and his friends alone. He was especially secretive with her about his social status which to me read that he doesn’t really care about her feelings. How is it okay for a man as rich as that, he’s been taught all his responsibilities on taking over their family empire from the day of his birth and then be so careless with getting into a relationship with a person that wasn’t an equal to his socio-economic status? Not to say that he shouldn’t fall in love with someone who was poorer than him but rather he should’ve been more open with her if his love was really true then the relationship would benefit if he trusted her enough to know the truth. Some might say he could’ve just been protecting himself from gold diggers, but then when the relationship has reached that point where you were going to introduce her to your world and that by the end of that trip home you were thinking of proposing marriage to her, then why did you still keep that information from her? Which by the way is integral to the survival of their relationship. He himself has felt crushed by the pressure of that kind of life he has grown up, and he still didn’t think that it was important enough to have a conversation about it?
She found out in the worst way possible in the flight on their way over to Singapore. She didn’t have time to prepare herself. This must be their way of trying to put the audience of being so surprised on what was so awe inspiring and so extreme about the extremely rich and it just looked like he neglected being honest to his girlfriend.
On to my next point, Ms. Rachel Chu. An Economics professor in New York University. How can someone be so accomplished at the academe and about money be so naive and clueless about how the world works? HOW COULD SHE NOT KNOW WHO HER BOYFRIEND IS?
Let’s put her credentials to one side and just look at how modern dating works. I could never buy that she never even once entered his name when they were first going out to find out if he was as he says is. Even just to check that he doesn’t have outstanding warrants for being a serial killer or something? I could never believe that she never once did even the simplest background check on his social media and not put some details together that she was dating a billionaire? It just doesn’t work that way these days. Even if you have no intentions of becoming a stalker and you don’t necessarily admit it but we all do this. Then considering she is an Economics lecturer at a top notch university in the USA and she doesn’t know that she’s dating one of the richest people in the world. It doesn’t compute guys.
Then the biggest mistake they made was probably not going crazy enough. If they were going to glorify obscene wealth why not go overboard with it? It was underwhelming. Oh a couple of private jets? a small exclusive island resort? Some huge parties with people coming in fancy cars? I’ve seen it so many times before I didn’t feel any excitement. Some people said maybe it was hard to relate to that kind of display of wealth because I wasn’t rich, well for me I can indulge in any kind of escapist fantasy about living a lifestyle that is so different than mine and the movie just didn’t do it crazy enough. For something called Crazy Rich it just felt so sane. Compared to how rich and how crazy the way one percenters spend their money in Asia, the movie actually looked amateurish.
The next part that didn’t feel as crazy as it should’ve was that it wasn’t mean enough. The mean girls that Rachel Chu, her supposed rivals to the most eligible bachelor in Singapore was weak. People who grew up with extreme wealth and influence don’t stop at dead fish on the bed when they want to drive away a person from their social circle. Think about it these people basically own their own empires and have the resources to create pranks that would probably make their victim have to seek therapy for the rest of their lives. A slightly bitchy comment here and there and wow I’m supposed to cower in fear?
To the people who made this have you actually met and spent time with the ultra rich?
The whole movie just felt like it was a middle class’s idea of how rich people lived not the way they intended that it was a look inside their world. That’s why they’re called the extremely rich, everything they do is extreme, money is no object and their idea of a good time is different than all of us plebians, how come it all felt so familiar?
I could go on and on but I think you get what I’m saying here. It was meh.
Now onto the parts that I really liked. What the movie captured was a very prevalent part of Asian culture, rich or poor, asian families basically operate in the same way. You do everything and make every decision in consideration as to how it will affect your family. That was the greatest part of the movie, the struggle with being a Asian – American; growing up with American/Western values and then having to reconcile with traditional Asian values when you go to your family’s’ home country. At least in that part it was a very accurate portrayal of what Asians and Asians American struggle with in this world.
The most satisfying opening scene in a movie that accurately displays what a majority of asian and white westerners interactions. It was a great way to show to the white world that not all Asians are poor and most have no idea just how much money the rich have from our continent. Lastly it perfectly portrayed that the only way you get even just an ounce of respect from white westerners is if you can make your money talk for you. That’s the only language they understand and so many Asians can speak that language now.
And the character Astrid Leong, just the fact that she refused to continuously make herself smaller just so she can keep husband around. I won’t give too many details but her story arc deserves to be enjoyed on your own.
Lastly, Akwafina was the only interesting character. She felt like she was a real person and not some cliched archetype in every single romcom and the irony is the comic relief in the movie was the most accurate portrayal of an asian person. The rest still seemed like they were Asian characters through the lens of white America.
All in all the movie didn’t quite deserve the hype that surrounded it judging from the quality of the movie itself. However its subsequent success and what that means to the future of telling Asian stories, with asian cast and crew means everything to the improvement of diversity in Hollywood. It was a great way to truly cement the need for accurate representation for different ethnicities and Asian nationalitites on the global stage.