Let’s talk about Crazy Rich Asians.
And also, the recent exploits of the romantic comedy. For years, it was a Hollywood go-to. If you had a hot star, you put them in a rom-com and it just printed money. As well as being one of the few genres aimed squarely at women, they wree very easy to watch and rarely offended. But eventually, the genre died out but not because of the usual reason. Most of the time when genres die, there is one particular flop which poisoned the well. For rom-coms, it was just a mountain of mediocrity that killed them. For years, all rom-coms were essentually the same story with the same lack of effort. And eventually, people just turned off them. They stopped going and it ended up being an unviable genre if you wanted to make money.
So what if you wanted to make a rom com that made people interested in the genre. Well recruit the man who made Jem and the Holograms and that Justin Bieber documentary. Seriously. The man behind what some call the biggest flop of all time is being tasked with bringing back this dead genre.
And yet in possibly the biggest twist 2018 offered, he pulled it off. So how? Well the movie sees Nick bringing girlfriend Rachel to his family back in Singapore. However unbeknownest to her, Nick’s family are the richest people on a very rich island, meaning she will have to navigate family politics if she wants this relationship to succeed.
As you can see here, there are already some conventions being broken. In most rom-coms, we see the start of a relationship, usually as it’s the most exciting time. Here though, we meet Nick and Rachel some way into the relationship and you can see they are not just a flash in the pan. They are good together, they are likable, you want them to succeed. And when faced with problems, they deal with them intelligently. The early reveal that Nick has kept his family’s wealth quiet would be cause for a massive blow up and at least one Coldplay song in most rom coms. Here, Rachel is disappointed but realises why and gets on with it. As most strong relationships would. It feels like right from the off that you are dealing with a proper relationship and a film that respects you.
So if the drama doesn’t come from the if they won’t they of the two leads, where does it come from? Well to tell you the truth, there just isn’t much. There is an underlying tension of Rachel’s anxieties over whether Nick’s family will accept her because she is American and as one person puts it, a commoner. But the movie most importantly wants to have fun in this crazy world of the uber rich. So you get taken on the most lavish bachelorette party ever created before heading off to a specially rented tanker to see an equally insane bachelor’s party. You get plenty of mad characters to enjoy on this journey and it is just great fun to be in everyone’s company. Even though you will get frustrated at some of the characters, no one is outright unlikable and those who verge on it are only briefly on screen.
I just mentioned the lavishness but I will have to into more detail. Because we are dealing with one of the richest families in the world, you get to see a lot of rich people stuff. Big houses, fancy cars, amazing interiors, a flower that only blooms once a year for a day, it’s all the stuff that you like and dream about when you go onto Pinterest. For some, they’ll love this. I do but then again I’m the sort of guy who goes onto Right Move and spends way too much time dreaming about moving into a house that I’ll never be able to afford. But for some, it will be offputting. Seeing all this lavishness is sickening to some people and if you are of that persuasion, this movie is not for you. It lives in wealth and if you aren’t on board with long gazing shots of things you could only afford if you won the lotter multiple times, you will not enjoy any of the movie.
But if you are on board, it will be a rollicking time for the majority of the movie because it just wants to have fun with it’s likable leads. It does delve into some clichés at the end, it does the my god hated thing of breaking them up for a bit, but it at least it does it with intelligence. There’s an actual, understandable reason rather than the usual misunderstanding which could be sorted with a short conversation. I still don’t like the fact the cliché is used because you know exactly where it’s going to go and it’s never an enjoyable journey to go through. It’s the weakest part of the movie but at the very least, it’s a short part of the movie.
That’s why Crazy Rich Asians was a massive success at the box office. Because it was a refreshing take on the rom com and it evaded most of the tired cliches which put people off the genre in the first place. It has likable characters, fun moments and takes advantage and at times is Pinterest: The Movie which will either make you love it more or hate it. This may well be on my Top 10 Films of 2018. Actually, it’s about time I get on with those lists…