Most Singaporeans were just plain excited that our little red dot island will be the scintillating backdrop of a highly anticipated Hollywood film. Premiere screenings were sold out and a guy I am acquainted with even caught the chick-flick twice!
Apparently, Crazy Rich Asians was a global box-office hit with talk of a sequel, generating ticket sales of over $200 million worldwide with 2019 Golden Globe nominations for Best Movie and Constance Wu.
I personally enjoyed the light-hearted romantic comedy with its positive portrayal of my homeland, and may even pick up the DVD. As for whether it is good too for wholesome family entertainment, you decide.
The Good (or familiar)
The beautiful scenes of Singapore from good old 牛车水 Chinatown to all-dressed-up Chijmes to glamourous Gardens by the Bay; the comic relief provided by surprisingly charming characters whether bible-studying, mahjong-playing tai tais ensconced in awesome old world architecture or others’ almost witty lines in Singlish colloquialisms albeit restrained and higher-class; the leads’ eye-candy good looks and machismo, complete with designer wardrobes and luxury toys
The Bad (or lame)
The “down-the-beaten-track” Cinderella story-line with Korean drama mother-in-law resistance thrown in and easily overcome to pass off as the climax in a weak plot; a tad boring theme exploring once again the identity crisis of Asian diaspora especially western-born; a millennial ABC protagonist who of course, must be an Economics professor raised by a poor immigrant single mom
The Ugly (or cringe-worthy)
Stereotypical ultra-rich Asians absorbed in excessive materialism and consumerism; the “Surprise! Surprise!” usual PC gesture of throwing-in minority characters and film locations in Hong Kong and Shanghai for inclusivity and diversity; the few moments of semi-nudity and sleaze when you would have to cover the eyes of your elementary kiddo and hope certain mature innuendos will escape him
If you are a 华侨 overseas-born Chinese like me or a Singaporean like its elite-schooled, National Service-defaulting, best-selling author Kevin Kwan, you may identify with and appreciate the movie more. Otherwise, it was a major flop in China and not much of a smash with ang mohs. One should also not whine that it lacks character or plot development, deep thought-provoking analyzable themes or a strong finish.
You may find me, however, this holiday season or at Chinese New Year, entertaining myself and friends with a re-run just for conversation, some patriotic pride or a laugh.