Why I messy cried watching Crazy Rich Asians

The youngest finds it more entertaining to watch me than the movie at the cinema because I invariably cry.

I even sobbed in the Mamamia sequel ..: and not because Pierce’s singing was so bad.

She insisted we see Crazy Rich Asians over the weekend – in between shuttling her to various school band performances and driving to Mooney Mooney Club for Father’s Day lunch – and I blubbed my eyes out.

It’s billed as a romantic comedy, but it kidnapped so many unexpected emotions.

I loved it!

However … DD and I had a disagreement about it on Sunday night.

After I raved, he went to see it and was VERY underwhelmed. He said the acting was wooden, none of the characters were likeable and it was too long.

He has a point, but none of that mattered to me because my enjoyment of the film transcended that stuff.

It’s achieved something special that I reckon white, middle-aged men struggle to get.

My eyes got a bit narrow as we faced off about it before I decided there were more fun ways to spend my Sunday night than fighting over a movie.

But here’s why CRA hit me in the heart:

It’s a Hollywood movie with a completely Asian cast

As white Australians it can be hard to understand what it means to Asian viewers to watch the first Hollywood film to feature stars that look like them, filmed in locations that feel like home that isn’t an arty period piece or poking fun.

As Vivian Huynh at SBS notes: “The only Asians I [ever] saw on screen were the calculus-loving nerd, the scrawny wimp, or the obnoxious goof – essentially, the exotic prop placed in scenes for the hunky white jock to laugh at. They were never allowed to be hot, steaming objects of desire and lust.”

Men are finding it just as affecting as women. Michelle Law at the SMH adds: “I saw the film with my brother and he cried. There were no ninjas in it; no powerless sex workers; and no emasculated Asian men.”

The film’s director Jon Chu says his brother also cried during the scene when the film’s heroine, Rachel, arrives at a lavish mansion. As she pulls up, she watches the film’s hero, Nick, coming outside to greet her. He’s dressed in a white suit and confidently walks through doorways that are opened for him by valets. As he gets closer to her, he breaks into a smile. It’s an entrance straight out of the grand Hollywood tradition.

“One of the most touching moments of the making of this movie was having my brother watch it,” Chu said. “He watched this point where Henry comes out [of his grandmother’s home] and he’s in this amazing white suit. My brother’s this very tough, athletic, 6-2 dude. He cried watching it.”

“After he was like, ‘You don’t understand, Jon, how that makes me feel. To see someone that you aspire to be and to have that on the big screen to share,’” Chu continued. “When you think of all the little trappings that have gathered in your brain over the years to tell you you’re not good enough, you’re not handsome enough, you’re not one of those people and to see his reaction, to see it for the first time like that, it means everything to me. I don’t even know how to process it, to see him react that way. It’s just been a learning experience all the way for me.”

They’re not alone. Huge swathes of Asian viewers have even started crying at the opening credits.

Emily Jan notes at The Atlantic: ‘I didn’t make it past the opening credits without bursting into spontaneous tears. Music can be such an emotional part of a movie experience to me, so the second Chen’s cover started playing in Mandarin (transporting me to karaoke-filled, special-occasion dinners visiting my extended family in Taiwan, watching my ah-ma take the mic and command the room) at the top of the film, I was gone.”

I am so joyful that the movie is No.1 at the US box office. Let it open many more doors.

It reminds me of the romantic comedies I loved in my youth

Remember When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, Pretty Woman … those were the days! Oh how I loved them and their happy endings.

Crazy Rich Asians is a chip off that block. It isn’t going to win an Oscar, but it looks fabulous, it’s fun and I’m a sucker for a love-conquers-all storyline.

Quite a few critics have heralded the movie with bringing back the rom-com genre after a few decades in the shadow of action movies. The film has already grossed nearly $111 million from North American theatres alone, passing the lifetime domestic total of 2015’s Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck”, one of the last big studio rom-com success stories.

I felt so nostalgic for Singapore

The filmmakers have made Singapore look INCREDIBLE. I reckon tourism will go through the roof. Though I found it hilarious that they managed to make it seem not at all humid, when you’d actually be a sweaty mess in real life.

I loved how extra everything looked. So exotic and glamorous. I felt so proud of the city I called home for two years.

And I enjoyed little touches like the exclamations of “alamak!”, spotting local hottie stars from my days as editor of Singaporean CLEO (how does Pierre Png look so young at 45?) and a delicious scene at a hawker centre.

It was an emotional week

I’d have cried watching just about anything on Saturday night. Let alone a movie about love conquering all.

Last week was a bit of a roller coaster for me.

So it was very therapeutic to sit in the dark for two hours blubbing in a good way.

The wedding scene where Kina Grannis does an epic cover of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love” …. waaaaaaah!

Let me know whether you like it. I’m curious to know if you’re in DD’s camp or mine.

Song of the day: actually, it’s the movie trailer of the day, for Crazy Rich Asians

 

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2 thoughts on “Why I messy cried watching Crazy Rich Asians

  1. I’ll see this, probably on my own, and let you know what I think. For me, the best rom coms are the originals – Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn – Bringing Up Baby, Philadelphia Story, Vacation, to name three. The stuff from the 80s and 90s cannot hold a candle to them.

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