Book cover with title 'Crazy Rich Asians' a novel by Kevin Kwan

Insight Into a World Many Have Never Seen and Few Would Recognize

Alan Suemori
Commentary
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

In the 1930s, as the world roiled in the depths of the Great Depression, Hollywood rolled out a banquet of classic romantic comedies that is still revered and beloved today. Armed with whiplash dialogue, glamorous Manhattan penthouse settings and whisper-thin plots where no one actually worked but drifted from party to party, they starred the glimmering film idols of the great studios — Barbara Stanwyck, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Myrna Loy and Claudette Colbert. Ascending into the ether above the grim reality of the economic ruins below, movies like “Bringing Up Baby,” “My Man Godfrey” and “It Happened One Night” provided a much-needed escape for millions of Americans.

On many different levels, Jon M. Chu’s retelling of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel, “Crazy Rich Asians,” is a loving homage to this much-cherished tradition of moviemaking. Made for a modest $30 million, the film’s plot revolves around a young Manhattan couple, Nick Young and Rachel Chu, who decide to visit Singapore, where Nick can introduce Rachel, his fiancee, to his loving family. It sounds simple enough, except for the fact that his clan is unimaginably wealthy and inordinately fond of Nick. Problems ensue.

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Alan Suemori teaches Asian American history at ‘Iolani School. He is a former Hawai’i Herald staff writer.

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