I was both excited and apprehensive to attend a preview screening of Crazy Rich Asians last week.
I was thrilled because Crazy Rich Asians is the first movie from a major studio that had an all Asian-American cast. The idea of a wide-release movie giving Asian-Americans the Hollywood representation we deserve was excited. I’ve always strongly-believed that pop culture has the power to changes hearts and minds, for better and worse. With Asian-Americans, the visibility that this film can afford us is priceless.
The film allows us to reach an audience that know next-to-nothing about Asian culture other than the pervasive and outdated stereotypes that have existed for decades so they can see us as no different than any other red-blooded Americans.
On the other hand, “CRA” also had the unenviable burden of proving out that Americans were ready and willing to watch a movie with Asians in all the lead roles. Not unlike Black Panther, that’s a lot of pressure to place on one film. If the movie succeeds, it opens the door for future films with casts that look like Constance Wu, Harry Shum Jr., Gemma Chan, Henry Golding, Ken Jeong, and Akwafina – a mix of Asians and mixed Asians. However, if the movie failed, it might be another two decades before another studio took a chance on an all Asian-American film.
It makes no sense that one film can make or break the future representation of minorities, but that’s how Hollywood has always worked.
As Long As Rotten Tomatoes Loves Crazy Rich Asians
Let me first say that I don’t like rom-coms at all. Of all movie genres, rom-coms are near the bottom of the list right above Adam Sandler and Will Farrell movies. So despite wanting to like it and being personally-invested in the film’s success, I didn’t enjoy “Crazy Rich Asians’. My short review of the film was that it was beautiful, it had it’s moments (any scene with Akwafina) and bits and pieces I enjoyed. However for the most part, it was waaaay too cheesy for me (it’s a Rom Com after all).
I walked out disappointed and convinced that there was no way that this was going to resonate with viewers. Right? I say that fully understanding that the genre isn’t my thing, so I said it with some hope.
A few days later, the review embargo was lifted and reviews started to roll in. And to my surprise, Crazy Rich Asians started piling up gushing review after gushing review. Through the first couple days, it had a 100% on Rotten Tomatores and didn’t get it’s first critical review until it already amassed nearly 30 good reviews. And now 100 reviews in, the film sits at 93% “approval” rating, has earned the site’s Certified Fresh honor and a critic’s consensus that lauds the film not just for its representation, but for it’s great casting and a satisfying film.
With a terrific cast and a surfeit of visual razzle dazzle, Crazy Rich Asians takes a satisfying step forward for screen representation while deftly drawing inspiration from the classic — and still effective — rom-com formula.
If Crazy Rich Asians maintains that score, the film will be on the short list of the year’s best-reviewed films. Not that just, it’s another step toward future Asian-American visibility. Or at least a sequel.