Crazy Rich Asians
Heir Takes Fiancee’ Home to Meet Picky Mom in Delightful Romantic Dramedy
Even though Nick (Henry Golding) and Rachel (Constance Wu) have been dating for a few years, they don’t know much about each other’s background. That’s because they live in New York City where he’s never bothered to reveal that he’s from one the wealthiest families in Singapore, and she’s never talked about her humble roots, having been raised by a single-mom immigrant (Kheng Hua Tan) to the U.S. from China.
The difference in social status never affected their relationship, since Nick’s so unassuming, and ambitious Rachel beat the odds by getting a great education en route to becoming an economics professor at NYU. In fact, they’ve gotten along so well that he’s seriously considering proposing. He’s even picked out a diamond ring.
However, he’d first like to take her home to meet the folks, especially his domineering mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh). An opportunity arises when Nick is invited to Singapore for the impending wedding of his best friend, Colin (Chris Pang).
Rachel agrees to go and upon arriving finally learns that her beau is one of the island’s most eligible bachelors. However, not only does she soon find herself unfairly accused of being a gold digger, but she’s warned, “You will never be enough!” by his disapproving mom.
Will class differences doom this fairy tale romance? Or will Rachel win over Nick’s relatives and friends during her brief stay? That is the burning question fueling the fires of Crazy Rich Asians, a delightful dramedy directed by Jon M. Chu (Now You See Me 2).
Based on Kevin Kwan’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, the film features a colorful cast of characters played by a talented ensemble of Asian actors. Besides the love story at the heart of the tale, the picture features enough comic relief and intriguing subplots to hold you in its thrall from beginning to end.
It’s hard to fathom why it has taken Hollywood a quarter-century to mount another Asian-centric, big budget production like this, given the success of The Joy Luck Club in 1993. And don’t let the title fool you. This engaging, cross-cultural saga is a surefire hit with universal appeal!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity and suggestive content
In English and Mandarin with subtitles
Running time: 121 minutes
Production Studios: Warner Brothers Pictures / Ivanhoe Pictures / Starlight Culture Entertainment / SK Global Entertainment / Electric Somewhere / Color Force
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures
Disgraced Navy Captain Seeks Redemption in “Jurassic Jaws” Horror Flick
Five years ago, Captain Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) only managed to save half his crew when his research submarine was crippled by a massive, 75-foot long shark thought to be extinct. Because the Navy brass was skeptical about the existence of a Megalodon, he was dishonorably discharged and lost not only his career, but his wife, to boot.
Ever since, he’s disappeared from public view, and has been rumored to be drinking heavily in Samut Prakan, Thailand. That’s where former colleague, Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao), finds him after the prehistoric creature attacks again, leaving another submersible sitting on the floor of the Pacific Ocean.
Dr. Zhang pressures him to sober up and take a shot at redemption, since he’s the only person alive who has ever successfully completed such a dangerous, deep sea operation. “I don’t dive anymore,” Jonas declares, but changes his mind upon learning that his ex, Lori (Jessica McNamee), is piloting the otherwise doomed vessel.
That is the compelling point of departure of The Meg, a harrowing horror flick which, despite being adapted from a novel by Steve Alten, might nevertheless be best described as a cross between Jaws (1975) and Jurassic Park (1993). The picture was directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) who walks a fine line here between lifting ideas from and paying homage to those two Spielberg screen classics.
Scene after scene feels vaguely familiar, like the one where a pet pooch named Pippin is ostensibly swallowed by the monster. In Jaws, a dog named Pippet disappears while playing fetch with his owner. Another deja vu arrives when the Meg improbably flies out of the water and lands on the boat hunting it. Where have I seen that before? You get the idea.
Provided you are willing to forgive such shameless supposed tributes, or are too young to have seen the originals, the film actually delivers a fairly riveting roller coaster ride. Since the genre has been dominated in recent years by the campy Sharknado franchise, Jurassic Jaws proves to be just the Rx needed to make sharks scary again!
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for action, peril, profanity and bloody images
Running time: 113 minutes
Production Studios: Warner Brothers Pictures / Gravity Pictures / Maeday Productions / Flagship Entertainment Group / Apelles Entertainment / Di Bonaventura Pictures
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening August 17, 2018
Alpha (PG-13 for intense peril) Ice Age tale of survival chronicling the unlikely friendship forged between a lone wolf abandoned by its pack and an injured young man (Kodi Smit McPhee) separated from his tribe. With Leonor Varela, Jens Hulten and Natassia Malthe.
Crazy Rich Asians (PG-13 for profanity and suggestive content) Adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s semi-autobiographical best seller of the same name revolving around the hostility encountered by a Chinese-American college professor (Constance Wu) when she accompanies her wealthy boyfriend (Henry Golding) home to Singapore for his best friend’s (Chris Pang) wedding. Cast includes Gemma Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Dr. Ken Jeong and Awkwafina. (In English and Mandarin with subtitles.)
Mile 22 (R for graphic violence and pervasive profanity) Espionage thriller starring Mark Wahlberg as the leader of a tactical CIA team assigned to extract an asset with valuable information (Iko Uwais) from a foreign country before the enemy closes in on him. With John Malkovich, Ronda Rousey and Lauren Cohan. (In English, Russian and Indonesian with subtitles.)
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN
Alt-Right: Age of Rage (Unrated) Political documentary revisiting last summer’s neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia leading to the murder of counter-demonstrator Heather Heyer. Featuring commentary by Antifa activist Daryle Lamont Jenkins and white supremacist Richard Spencer.
Billionaire Boys Club (R for sexuality, violence, drug use and pervasive profanity) Remake of the 1987 of the fact-based crime thriller, set in L.A. in the Eighties, about a gang of preppies who murder an investor (Kevin Spacey) in their get-rich-quick Ponzi scheme. Co-starring Ansel Elgort, Taron Egerton, Bokeem Woodbine and Emma Roberts.
Do You Trust This Computer? (Unrated) Cautionary documentary warning of the perils of the impending Artificial Intelligence era in which self-learning computers are apt to control virtually every aspect of our lives.
Juliet, Naked (R for profanity) Adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel of the same name about a diehard rock fan (Chris O’Dowd) whose jaded girlfriend (Rose Byrne) falls in love with the obscure musician (Ethan Hawke) he’s become obsessed with. Supporting cast includes Jimmy O. Yang, Megan Dodds and Lily Newmark.
Minding the Gap (Unrated) Rust Belt documentary, set in Rockford, Ill., chronicling a dozen years in the lives of three skateboarding BFFs from adolescence to facing adult responsibilities.
A Whale of a Tale (Unrated) Eco-expose’ revisiting Taiji, the Japanese fishing village denounced for dolphin hunting in the 2010 Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove. (In Japanese with subtitles.)
The Wife (R for profanity and some sexuality) Glenn Close plays the title character in this adaptation of Meg Wolitzer’s best seller of the same name about an aging woman who comes to question the 40 years of self-sacrificing which enabled her husband (Jonathan Pryce) to win the Nobel Prize for literature. With Christian Slater, Max Irons and Elizabeth McGovern.