We went to see Crazy Rich Asians and here’s what we thought!

The romantic comedy is having a moment in film and television right now, and our romance editors are loving it! Earlier this fall the editors from all three Harlequin offices went to see Crazy Rich Asians. We were curious to see how a romcom would be updated and refreshed for the 2018 screen, and what parallels there might be with the latest trends in romance publishing. Here are some of our thoughts!

From Toronto

“Very entertaining eye candy—a beach read (I also read it the day after seeing the movie!) Loved the shiny excesses—especially the food! The story was predictable but I didn’t care. And I really loved Awkwafina’s character!” – Kathleen Scheibling

“The hero’s mother, Eleanor, is actively trying to end Rachel and Nick’s relationship throughout much of the movie, but I loved her anyway! Why? In the opening scene, we see racist hotel staff trying to send Eleanor and her children out into a rainy night even though she’s got reservations. But Eleanor doesn’t get angry. She doesn’t raise her voice. She makes a phone call and turns the tables on those men, teaching them a lesson they’ll never forget. What a great way to make Eleanor instantly relatable for the audience! We may not be able to solve a problem by buying an entire hotel, but we all know what it’s like to face injustice, and seeing Eleanor stand up to those men had me rooting for her right away.” – Dana Grimaldi

“Overall, I thought it was just okay. The top moment for me was the wedding scene, which has to be one of the most memorable, most romantic movie wedding scenes ever. Definitely 3 tissues. And of course, Awkwafina.  And her hair.  She did great upholding the long and well-respected tradition of being best friend to the heroine in a romcom! – Kathryn Lye

“For me, the most heart-tugging moment in this movie was when [spoiler alert] Rachel’s mom showed up in Singapore to comfort her daughter after Rachel and Nick broke up. (“I’m not crying – you’re crying!”) I actually found that relationship more affecting than the central romance. Nick felt a little bland to me, although I thought Constance Wu as Rachel was both charming and emotionally engaging. And the look of the movie – pure delight!” – Deirdre McCluskey

“I think what I loved most about this movie was that I left the theatre feeling like I hadn’t seen a solid, fresh, fun romcom in a long time—until Crazy Rich Asians! I love how the movie embraces the tropes of classic rom-coms, from the hero and heroine being polar opposites (financially, at least) to the comic relief provided by the secondary characters, and the way we get a big-scale take on an ordinary occurrence: meeting your partner’s family. Yet the movie wasn’t afraid to go in its own directions, by portraying a multi-layered “antagonist” in Eleanor, and by exploring different kinds of female relationships outside of the romance. A great watch!” – Katie Gowrie

From London

“Loved it. Really enjoyed the family dynamics, particularly with the heroine & hero’s mum. And it was refreshing to see such a relatable film with an Asian cast.” – Julia Williams

“An enjoyable watch – great to see a lavish setting on screen, and an all-Asian cast, but it could have been a touch more romantic I thought!” – Sareeta Domingo

“Loved escaping into the obscenely wealthy world, the simplicity of the classic Cinderella story.  And the feel-good, shareability factor – I told my mum and aunts to go see it! (they loved it too!)” – Carly Byrne

“I love love loved this film – I’ve seen it twice in the cinema and will probably see it again! Such a wonderful cast and full of so much heart. I loved the family dynamics too, as well as the romance of course!” – Sara Jafari

From New York

“This movie surprised me in so many ways. I was just expecting a romance and, instead, I also got a story about the complexities of the mother/child relationship, how deeply our family history influences our present—and our future—and the fact that we’re constantly transforming, striving to feel fulfilled and, ultimately, happy.” – Allison Lyons

“I loved this movie! I thought it was sweet and funny. I wish the romance played a larger role in the plot, but I thought the relationships and the characters felt realistic and relatable, which was impressive considering the extraordinarily lavish setting.” – Connolly Bottum

“I loved the family dynamic and the opulence, of course. The most touching and interesting (and true to life) was the complicated relationship between the heroine and her fiancé’s mother. A light-hearted watch, but with real weight to many of the scenes.” – Patience Bloom

“I loved Crazy Rich Asians! It was really fun and Rachel is amazing. My only beef was that Nick never quite apologized for lying about his background to my satisfaction, but honestly, this movie was more about Rachel anyway and since she’s ok with it, I can roll with it.” – Megan Broderick


Did you see Crazy Rich Asians? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!


4 replies on “We went to see Crazy Rich Asians and here’s what we thought!”

I haven’t seen the movie, but I have read the book – it took me most of an hour to get over the fact that the street I lived in in Singapore was in the book. And I knew all the places. That never happens!
And the food…I got homesick

I loved it. Such a great cast of characters and I loved that Rachel proved she had what it takes (with a little help from her friends).

I loved Crazy Rich Asians. I hope you editors took notes on why the film works. I used to be a romance novel reader but I haven’t bought one for a couple years. It’s not just Hollywood that forgot how to make romantic comedy. You people did too. The reasons why the film works are:
1. A smart and super-relatable heroine (no small thanks to Constance Wu) – Even the wealth on display isn’t relatable to most of us, but we see everything through Rachel’s eyes. We feel everything she feels. We cry when she cries. We rejoice when she does. It’s satisfying to see a woman asserting herself in an intimidating environment.
2. Culture & culture identity issue – The Singaporean setting is unique and the culture is grounded in reality. The story touches a nerve of Asian-Americans because very few stories touche on the dual-identity issue. We’re not deemed American enough in the U.S. and not Asian enough in Asia. The film makes it the main conflict: Eleanor rejects Rachel because of her American identity.
3. Universal theme of family relations – The relationships within families are well portrayed and relatable.
4. Clever written script – Using games (the poker and the mahjong games) to book-end the film is clever, considering Rachel specializes in game theory.
5. Well-written dialogues and well-timed silence – Most dialogues, the comedic and the dramatic, were well-written and memorable. It also knows when to use silence, e.g., the pause before the bride showed up, the silence between mother and son during the climax. The former built the drama of the entrance. The latter made the eventual show of the ring much more surprising.

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