Rich, charming guy meets unassuming, sweet girl.
It’s an overdone trope that has launched thousands of Hollywood romantic comedies, but Crazy Rich Asians offers a unique blend of perspectives and visuals not normally seen by the average movie-goer.
A two-hour celebration of fabulous wealth, stunning clothes and idealised love, complete with a heroine who has to out-fox her beau’s imperious mother and vicious ex-girlfriend, it is a faithful adaptation of the international bestseller by Singaporean-American author Kevin Kwan.
But most importantly, it’s the first Hollywood movie in 25 years to feature a majority-Asian cast – a feat not matched since The Joy Luck Club in 1993.
Kwan turned down a “gigantic” pay-offer from Netflix, to plop for Warner Bros. Pictures and a cinematic general release, looking to send a worldwide message and put down a marker for Asian-led box office receipts.
Along with this rejection, Kwan revealed in an interview with EW that a producer approached him with the idea of casting a white female for Rachel Chu to which Kwan promptly replied with a resounding no (considering the title of the movie, we’re not quite sure how a Rachel Collins would have fit into the mix instead).
It seems that Hollywood is still struggling to grasp the concept of representation.
Well here’s the kicker, Hollywood: diversity sells.
The movie made a cool $34 million since its opening on Wednesday, with $25.2 million just over the weekend, beating out Mission Impossible: Fallout and Mark Wahlberg’s Mile 22.
Director Jon Chu wants the movie to convince Hollywood bosses that there’s plenty of money to be made from Asian-led projects, opening the door to greater representation.
“That we are worth that time, we are worth that energy and worth that effort,” he told Fox News.
“The cinematic experience is unparalleled in that kind of context, of putting it in the museum, in the glass box and say this is special.”
Filmed on location in Malaysia and Singapore, with a reported budget of $30 million, its cast is almost entirely Asian, Asian-American and Asian diaspora.
“You don’t see that growing up. You don’t feel like you can be the hero of your own story. I think every child should feel worthy and feel loved,” a tearful Wu told NBC News.
“I want to get to a stage where it’s not headline news that this is the first movie in 25 years,” agrees Golding. “Let’s just tell stories, that’s what Hollywood was created for,” he told NBC.
RELATED: Henry Golding Goes to Hollywood
Reviews are mostly positive, with many celebrities such as Chris Pratt and Mindy Kaling showing much love and praise to their Twitter followers.
The movie follows Chinese-American economics professor Rachel Chu as she flies to Singapore with her lecturer boyfriend Nick Young, seemingly clueless that his family is “richer than God.”
Throw some dazzling jewels, private jets, bitchy rich girls and class conflict into the mix and you’ll have yourself 120 minutes of laugh-out-loud entertainment and maybe even some tears.
Prospective mother-in-law Eleanor, played by Michelle Yeoh, provides all the hauteur, while comedy comes from US actress and rapper Awkwafina, who plays Rachel’s nouveau-riche but well-meaning friend Peik Lin.
A survey of popular movies from 2007-16 by the University of Southern California found that only 5.7 percent of characters were Asian, and that only three percent of directors were Asian or Asian American.
If Crazy Rich Asians is any indicator, we think (and hope) that figure’s going to change in the near future.
Crazy Rich Asians is set to premiere in Malaysia on August 22.