*************************SPOILERS ALL AROUND**********************
This is a personal movie for me as a Korean American as well as someone immersed in Chinese culture for most of my life. I waited a year to finally watch this and it did not disappoint except for a few scenes where I almost lost it because my point of view is as someone who read the books and tried to turn my comparison switch off but couldn’t. And no, I wasn’t crying, you were…
Q) How do you introduce Asian culture in media to an ignorant international audience and make it entertaining?
– 1 Dash of Mean Girl spice
– 1 Pinch British accents
– 2 Tablespoons each of romance and comedy
– 3 Cups of glitzy scenery and costume porn
– 10 Gallons of family drama
Drizzle with sexy male leads et voila successful dish to impress the world and make history!
Basically Meet the Parents mixed in with Gatsy and Korean dramas rolled into a palatable pork bun of touching family relationships and frolicking romance. Its ambition is matched by its success and I couldn’t be more thrilled and grateful that Kevin Kwan helped usher in a new era with his comedically realistic work.
Personally, I only wanted 4 things: good pacing, good acting, Michelle Yeoh’s presence, and to feast my eyes on Harry Shum Jr. I got most of those; definitely sold me on Nick and Rachel’s love as well as Rachel’s interactions with her modern mother. I was even surprised in a good way with the invented character of Peik Lin who was too real in all her scenes. But I have to cry whyyyyyy did they cut down Charlie’s and Astrid’s story?!!! That was devastating and immoral!!! I read it was a deliberate move and the pragmatic part of me acknowledges there was hardly time to put in the side characters but I still felt ripped off.
The Sexy Asian Man
Hot fantasy with fit Asian bachelors. It’s been a damn long time coming.
That EXTRA Wedding
I mean, it was artisically unique and well shot but I was going wtf so cheesy. Obviously being rich doesn’t automatically give you taste. Let’s throw water down the aisle and have cheap fireflies in a low light jungle landscape. Add closeup shots framed with grass, gah eyesore. Maybe it was a joke or I just didn’t “get it”, but you do you #weddinghater
Accurate cultural points
1) Parents NEVER call just to ask how are you
2) Old guard Asians are shameless nosy gossips
3) That’s why their Asian American children hide everything from them
4) Dat dumpling lyfe
5) Yes, they LOVE free stuff
6) Asians respect authority and live with their family as long as possible, no sending to nursing home, as Eleanor points out
7) The nauseating attitude of the wealthy as splendidly summed up in the book:
“I’ve had enough of being around all these crazy rich Asians, all these people whose lives revolve around making money, spending money, flaunting money, comparing money, hiding money, controlling others with money, and ruining their lives over money. And if I marry you, there will be no escaping it, even if we live on the other side of the world”
I was enjoying the ride until the Hollywood style airplane proposal. I read they didn’t go for an elaborate Christian Grey style billionnaire production for the moment, which is a relief. But then really, a flight chase?! Might I add there was no mahjong scene either- in the novel, Eleanor pretty much never interacts with Rachel one-on-one. So everything ends up wrapped up in a nice little bow! Oh so convenient that generations of Asian culture and ingrained snobbery is wiped out with a motherly change of heart. I’m really churning to see how they resolve the jagged plot points they mapped out but I trust them to do a good job, (while eating a bitter melon).
Overall, there is a lot of celebration to be had at present and a lot of hope for the future. Young girls and boys will now be represented and not be ashamed of being Asian. And that is the definition of a beautiful social movement.