Read it before you see it – Crazy Rich Asians

A few weeks ago, we went to see Oceans 8 in the theater. Oceans 11 is one of my husband’s favorite movies, so he was excited to see another installment in the franchise, and I was excited to see a movie with a whole host of strong female protagonists. Before the movie started there were the usual handful of previews, about which I don’t generally get very exited. And yet, maybe it was because we were headed out of the season of summer, “comic book-ish” blockbusters, or maybe because the people who picked the previews just happened to nail my particular niche of entertainment, but every single preview looked really good. My husband wouldn’t necessarily agree, but I’d go back to the theater to see any and all of them.

The one that had me most intrigued and entertained, literally laughing out loud at times, was Crazy Rich Asians. If you haven’t seen the trailer, allow me.

A few things immediately caught my attention. First, as I’ve said, there are some seriously funny moments in there! Second, when was the last time you remember an American movie studio producing a full length feature film for mass distribution with a full Asian cast? Especially a rom-com!? It doesn’t happen. How rare is it? Rare enough that it has shown up in major news outlets this week. Rare enough that the producers turned down a massive payday from Netflix, who wanted to make the movie, in order to have the opportunity to produce a full length feature film for mass distribution with a full Asian cast! I’m here for it.

But the thing that really caught my attention was one phrase: “based on the international best seller.” If there’s one thing I’m always down for, its reading the book before seeing the movie, and we happened to have a big trip coming up with lots of plane and cruise time. Sign me up for Crazy Rich Asians!

rich, crazy asiansPlot Summary: You can glean a lot from watching the trailer, but here’s the gist. Nick and Rachel are two young college professors living and loving in New York City. Over the summer, Nick is to return to Singapore to visit his family and stand up in his best friends wedding. He invites Rachel to attend with him. What he’s never told Rachel is that he’s heir to a multi-billion dollar fortune, and his family’s life in Singapore is a far cry from their shoebox apartment in New York City. What ensues is cultural hilarity as Rachel tries to impress her potential in-laws, while they try to sabotage the relationship. Add in crazy expensive cars, clothes, and parties, and you’ve got Crazy Rich Asians. Which, by the way, is a crazy clever title that changes in meaning whether or not you include punctuation: crazy rich Asians = Asians who are extremely wealthy; crazy, rich Asians = Asians who are both crazy and rich. Both definitions apply here. It’s a brilliantly titled book, ok!

Book Review: I was massively entertained by this book. It’s not high intellectual literature, but it was a good read, perfect for vacation, and, while it was a romance, it was far from the cookie cutter Nicholas Sparks or Danielle Steele love stories that inhabit a lot of summer beach bags. There was a decent plot twist that was foreshadowed a lot, a “secret” that Nick’s mom knew about Rachel that you knew had to come out in the story at some point. Halfway through the book I kind of thought I knew what it would be. I was wrong! The resulting secret and consequences make for an interesting wrinkles in the story, which were unexpected but well done. I have just two criticisms of the story. One, is that Nick’s character is so helplessly naive at times that I wanted to shout, “Oh come on!!!” at the page. Two, is that the ending lacked closure, but I’ve since learned that the book is actually one in a trilogy, so I guess the author probably wasn’t interested in very much closure being that he had two more books to come. I’ll definitely be picking up the second and third installments.

Why you should read it before you see it: August 15th is right around the corner, so if you’re going to read this book before you see the movie, you’re going to have to get going. That said, it only took me three days to read, so you can do it! Why read it before seeing the movie? Well for starters, there are a lot of character side stories and nuances that I imagine will get glossed over in the script. There just won’t be time for all the sub-plots, but they are really good, and there are a few that definitely deserve screen time. Also, I can’t imagine the movie will rewrite the whole “Nick’s mom knows a secret about Rachel” thing, as it’s pretty central to her plot to split them up. Assuming the secret is the same in the movie, once you know it, you know it, so it will ruin a lot of the dramatic intrigue of reading the book. You’ll also pick a bunch of favorite characters as you read, and I’m more excited to see the movie now and how they portray some of the insane personalities having gotten to know them in print first.

What you should drink while you read it: This is just a bonus tip because it’s was my cocktail of choice for the entire cruise during which I read this book, and so I think it will probably enhance your experience!

cocktail.jpgDark and Stormy:
1/2 lime
2 oz spiced Caribbean rum
Ginger beer
Lime, lemon, or orange slice for garnish

In essence, a dark and stormy is a Moscow mule with rum instead of vodka. Cut 1/2 of a lime into wedges and muddle at the bottom of a glass. Add ice, 2 ounces of rum (more to taste) and shake. Top with ginger beer and add a wedge of citrus fruit for garnish.

Cheers!

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