This film and the book it was based on has received quite a bit of buzz about being one of the few films that feature an all Asian cast. In this case ‘Asian’ is used in a highly restricted sense of being just Singaporeans of Chinese ethnicity. No other groups made an appearance other than in bit parts.
The first half of the film can be categorized as ‘wealth porn’ where we are regaled with the lifestyles of exceedingly rich Singapore Chinese families who show that they can be as obnoxiously ostentatious about flaunting their wealth as any gauche Westerner. At that point I was going to give up on the film but the sunk-cost effect kicked in and I thought I might as well watch a bit more.
The second half turned out to be marginally better but was still a trite love story about the scion of a wealthy, old money Singapore family falling in love with a brilliant young Chinese-American woman who comes from a single-mother, working class background. This allows for the usual ‘disapproving and protective mother of the rich boy’ trope to be mercilessly pushed and for various clichés to be uttered, such as how Asian women put family first while Western women put self-fulfillment first, and the importance that family background should play in marriage arrangements in Asian cultures.
I expected to see a satire of wealthy Asian elites but it turned out to be basically a romantic comedy, a genre that I am not particularly fond of because they seem largely repetitive, set against a backdrop of conspicuous wealth. Frankly, the film was a waste of time.
Normally I would show the trailer but in this case I thought that this review by The Onion‘s Peter K. Rosenthal is much better than any official trailer because it is funnier than the film itself.
Reginald Selkirk says
The weird thing is that they bragged about this lack of diversity in casting, and have received praise for it.
Tabby Lavalamp says
I like a good romcom, so I greatly enjoyed this -- enough that I bought the Blu-ray. Even though the trope at the end is way overdone they did it in a way that made me like Nick more than at any other point in the movie, and the surprise reveal made me audibly gasp and I don’t get surprised at a lot of movies.
It was also a star-making movie for Awkwafina as far as I’m concerned, unfortunate stage name aside.
My only complaint is that Constance Wu, who is fantastic in the sitcom Fresh Off The Boat, didn’t get to be funnier.
“The weird thing is that they bragged about this lack of diversity in casting, and have received praise for it.”
A joke I hope?
I probably watch an unusual amount of foreign films so I was confused at first by the ethnic casting references. Then I realized it was a US film.
They probably got praise for it because Hollywood has a way of disappearing non-white people and having white actors portray roles that have a specific ethnic group tied to them. If we didn’t have such a lousy history (both distant and very, very recent past) of racism and Hollywood had a vibrant diversity rather than a number of mostly white headliners, it probably wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. But racism is definitely a thing in the US and I hear the diversity issue is as well.
Marcus Ranum says
Ooh, “do we care more about class or race?” That’s not an old theme at all!
John Morales says
The review amused me greatly. 🙂
(I expected it to be more ham-fisted, but was pleasantly surprised)