YouTubers have Opposing Views on Crazy Rich Asians

In the film adaptation of the novel written by Keven Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians (2018) was the first film produced by a major Hollywood studio to feature an all Asian led cast since the film The Joy Luck Club (1993). Directed by Jon M. Chu, the film stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong and Michelle Yeoh. The film centers around a middle class Asian-American economics professor Rachel (Constance Wu) who goes to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) to meet his family and friends and realizes he is the heir to the richest family in Singapore. YouTubers Mark Kermode, Grace Randolph, Steph Cozza and Jeremy Jahns share their opposing opinions on the ground breaking romantic comedy.

Despite the fact that the narrative is kind of creaky and has very familiar rom-com genre beats … it’s just a question of whether they’re infused with something new and something vibrant or whether you get the feeling that you’ve kind of seen all those things before. So the trick is to breathe new life into old rifts and actually I thought this did that rather well.

Going into the film with no prior knowledge about it other than the whole buzz about it being the first film since The Joy Luck Club to feature an Asian led cast, YouTuber and movie critic Mark Kermode is pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable the film is. He notes the film has its typical romantic comedy tropes as the base for the plot, but says the fresh new spin on the story that is incorporated with the absurdity of wealth displayed by the characters and the richness of the culture in which the characters come from, is refreshing to see.

There’s something about the movie, the fact that the title is Crazy Rich Asians ... that’s how rich they are … it was just swimming in this sort of sea of indulgence. But what Crazy Rich Asians manages to do is, on the one hand, depict all that stuff, but on the other hand, retain an oddly standoffish attitude towards it.

Kermode compares the film to Sex and the City (1998) in a way in which they share the underlying theme of wealth; but this film also portrays that aspect of wealth as an absurdity to which many of the characters try to distance themselves from, according to the YouTuber.

Presenting yet another new modern damaging stereotype and a film that is downright offensive, gross display of wealth.

On the opposite spectrum, YouTuber Grace Randolph from the channel Beyond The Trailer, finds the film to be sorely disappointing and only a catalyst to perpetuate new stereotypes of Asians Americans in mainstream media. She dislikes the constant displays of wealth that at times seems grossly exaggerated and exploited: “a constant crass display of wealth.”

Not only are the damaging stereotypes a fail for the film, but the two main characters have very little development arcs and are quite unlikable, according to Randolph. With Rachel, she is supposed to be a smart, funny and charismatic person, as described by the other characters; however, her character never displays any of those characteristics, says the YouTuber.

I never saw any of that. I think she used her being an economics professor once in the movie but like in a cocktail party conversation … in fact we never really saw anything about her character. There was so much going on this movie I never felt that we got to know Rachel and therefore it was hard to root for Rachel.

With Henry, Randolph finds his character to be equally unlikable. Taking your girlfriend to meet your family is a big deal, so shouldn’t he have better prepared his girlfriend on what to expect rather than throwing her into an unknown situation without being prepared?

The way he leaves Rachel totally unprepared to deal with his family, friends and even his ex -girlfriend, I think is really unforgivable and not the behavior of a future CEO or husband. So, he wasn’t so great to root for either.

It feels like a very typical romantic comedy, says YouTuber Steph Cozza from the channel Aggressive Comix, who notes the cheesy moments aren’t necessarily a flaw of the film.

Anything that may have been considered a flaw wasn’t really a flaw because, well this is a romcom, that’s the style of this movie. It’s a cheesy romantic heartfelt sort of thing.

She notes the film feels like a very typical, classic romantic comedy that could have easily been made 20 years ago, and yet it is still very modern and relevant to the times. It is a fresh new approach to the genre with fun musical choices ranging from Chinese music to old classics remade in Chinese, a range of emotions and at times unpredictable events despite being a very common movie trope, according to the YouTuber.

Very, very fun. Really surprisingly funny in a lot of places where I wouldn’t have expected it to be and as far as romantic comedies go, this has a very good plot. There were times where I was like I honestly do not know what is going to happen.

Already expecting the worst, just from the scenes in the trailer, YouTuber Jeremy Jahns rates the film “a good time with no alcohol needed.” He describes the film as a mix between Sex and the City (1998), Entourage (2004) and Meet the Parents (2000). However, it does leave him questioning if the film was more of a romance or more of a comedy.

There are some clever quips and some of the side characters do lend themselves to comedy, they’re the ones that make it a romantic comedy… not all the comedy landed for me. There were a couple of characters … you’re acting like a cartoon.

Romance and lifestyles of the rich and famous are two universal aspects of the curiosity of human nature, says Jahns. The fact that the film caters to both these elements, makes the film relatable to a huge audience and is what makes the film so enjoyable.

Romance among the human race, it’s kind of a universal binder. Everyone gets it. You know that because the human race hasn’t died out ... So in that, the movie is playing to human nature. On the other hand, people love seeing people live the lives that they dream of. And in that, this movie is playing to human nature.

All of the YouTubers note the cultural importance of the film to Asian-Americans and their representation in Hollywood and mainstream media; however, not all agree that it is executed in a way to highlight the diversity that has been missing.

YouTubers Mark Kermode from the channel kermodeandmayo, Grace Randolph from the channel Beyond The Trailer, Steph Cozza from the channel Aggressive Comix and Jeremy Jahns, rate and review movies and TV shows on their channels regularly.