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DVD REVIEW: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ brings plenty of joy, luck to films

November 17, 2018

If you missed “Crazy Rich Asians” this summer, check it out over the holidays.

It’s one of the most joyful films of the year.

Nothing more than a romantic comedy, it gets its buzz by showing us a world few of us have seen – that of crazy, rich Asians.

Director Jon M. Chu cracks the door by accompanying a college professor to Singapore. There, she’s expecting to meet her boyfriend’s family. What she doesn’t realize is just how rich he is.

These aren’t just people with nice houses and fleets of cars. They’re the people who own the land on which others build their nice houses and drive their fleets of cars.

The wedding Rachel (Constance Wu) and Nick (Henry Golding) are planning to attend is budgeted at $40 million. A bachelorette party involves major-league shopping; a bachelor party is accessible only by helicopter.

There’s so much jaw-dropping wealth in this film Chu wouldn’t need much of a plot to hang it on. But he’s got a dandy. Henry’s mom (Michelle Yeoh) takes a dim view of the American and doesn’t want her son to marry her. His grandmother (Lisa Lu) has her own issues. And then there’s a parade of crazy friends and relatives who muddy the divide between them.

Thankfully, Rachel has an old college pal (the charming Awkwafina) who helps her get perspective and a killer dress for the over-the-top wedding.

Chu introduces contemporary Asian culture in smart bits, letting us understand the world through a familiar prism.

Wu and Golding are a couple worth rooting for. They came together under perfect circumstances and have the skills to stay together – if those outside forces don’t push too hard. She’s as awed as we are; he’s as comfortable as we wish we could be.

The moms, though, are the real question marks. Yeoh and Lu make this more than just a simple Hallmark romance. They’re forces that could level armies, yet they never tip their hands.

With “Crazy Rich,” Chu shows how extensive the Asian acting community really is. The cast could be dropped into any number of films and emerge with a fresher take. A “Crazy Rich” “Top Gun”? A “Crazy Rich” “Mission: Impossible”? Clearly, the film could shake things up.

On its own, it’s a neatly crafted story of awakening that lets us see how “Dynasty” and “Dallas” translates on another continent.

Chu wows with that $40 million wedding (yes, it looks that lush) and shows just how ingenuity can triumph in the face of tremendous odds.

There’s more than one showdown, a lot of expensive purses and a mahjong game that will make you want to sit at the table.

“Crazy Rich Asians” should make its own fortune in theaters, largely because it taps into worlds we haven’t seen and makes them extremely inviting.

When the world we live in seems like it’s getting smaller and more insular, it’s nice to see something like this that broadens horizons.

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