Crazy Rich Asians opens in theaters tomorrow & this kooky semi-broke Filipina (me) cannot wait to see it! Usually I only blog about movies when I’ve seen an advanced screening, but there is so much excitement in the air about this film that I’m throwing my hat in the ring & writing about it.
Diversity, representation, inclusion – these are some of the buzzwords that Hollywood has bandied about for the last few years. Yet entertainment studios don’t always get it right, especially when you hear about the whitewashing in films – like when Emma Stone was cast in “Aloha,” Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell” & Tilda Swinton in “Doctor Strange.”
Crazy Rich Asians is based on a book by Kevin Kwan. It’s been said that he wrote the book based (in part) on his childhood. This book is the first of a trilogy & I wonder if this film does well, could the studio make additional movies? I mean, Sex & the City had intentions on doing that (and we know that won’t be happening anytime soon). Let’s keep our fingers crossed people!! IMHO, we need to have more Asians represented on the big screen. 🙂
Not since 1993’s “The Joy Luck Club” has a major American studio taken the chance on an all Asian cast set in modern day times. I’m old enough to remember when the “Joy Luck Club” premiered. I was in college & I felt so excited to see faces on the big screen that looked like me. Sure, there were a few Asian-Americans on TV in the ‘80s & ‘90s (Lucy Liu on “Ally McBeal,” Nia Peeples on “Fame” & Margaret Cho on “All-American Girl”) but movies are a different ball game.
Moreover, when Asians are portrayed on film, it’s usually the stereotypical “dragon lady” character, the funny side-kick/best friend who has a few lines or the foreign exchange student (I’m looking at you, Long Duk Dong from “Sixteen Candles”). I grew up loving all of the John Hughes, yet the one time I see someone with my facial features & he’s portrayed as a laughingstock. For me, watching “The Joy Luck Club” on the big screen seemed to validate my existence.
That’s why I’m so excited for Crazy Rich Asians. Now a whole new generation can see Asians & Asian-Americans portrayed on the big screen! It’s a cultural moment for me & so many others. I realize that my preteen daughter might not understand the relevance. She’s grown up with “Fresh Off the Boat”, “Dr. Ken” & even to some degree “Lost.” She may not have watched these TV shows but she is aware of the existence of it & of the Asian characters.
I am so glad that this movie will be seen in theaters, as opposed to being released on Netflix which was an option on the table for the filmmakers. By having it in the theaters, my hope is that moviegoers will make this a cultural event. Remember when SO many women went to see the first “Sex & the City” movie, basically making it a girls night out?! Even more recently was the “Black Panther” phenomenon, where folks rented out whole theaters to watch the movie in celebration of a Marvel movie featuring an African-American cast.
Will there be some criticism of the movie? Sure, but let’s accept it for what it is being marketed as – a frothy, glam rom-com! There have been dozens of romantic comedies starring Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson & Reese Witherspoon (I mean, did anyone watch “This Means War” & actually like it?). Not all of the films were successful yet Hollywood continues to greenlight films cut from the same cloth starring Caucasian actors.
My hope is that Crazy Rich Asians can pull in some crazy rich numbers at the box office. It is imperative that we go out & support it for the same reasons that so many African-Americans went out to watch “Black Panther.” If the movie does well, then Hollywood studios will be more likely to greenlight other films with Asian themes and/or starring Asian actors. Wouldn’t it be nice to see other types of films or listen to a variety of voices & depictions of Asians (Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, etc.) on the big screen? Then maybe we won’t have to wait another 25 years to see representation on film.
I plan on seeing the movie this weekend & I hope you do too. Let’s make this a #GoldOpen!!
Disclosure: All images & opinions are 100% my own.