MOVIE BUFF-ET: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ a delightful take on familiar tale

Warner Bros. Entertainment

After a spring and summer full of super heroes and adventures movies, “Crazy Rich Asians” is a delightful change of pace and probably the best date movie of the year so far.

While the story itself is a familiar but somewhat grounded riff on Cinderella, the movie works because of the engaging stars, the gentle humor, and the heart of director Jon M. Chu infused into the production.

New In Local Theaters

  • Crazy Rich Asians (PG-13) 2 hr. 1 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle Hills, Bentonville Skylight)
    » Watch trailer
  • Mile 22 (R) 1 hr. 33 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Rogers Towne, Bentonville Skylight)
    » Watch trailer
  • Alpha (PG-13) 1 hr. 37 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • Pandas (G) 40 min.
    (Malco Razorback)
    » Watch trailer

The movie is based on the novel by Kevin Kwan that was adapted by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, and it features Constance Wu (“Fresh off the Boat”) as Rachel, an economics professor at NYU, who is in a longtime relationship with young businessman Nick (Henry Golding), who asks her to join him on a trip home to Singapore where he is going to be the best man in a wedding.

The trip will be the first opportunity for Rachel to meet Nick’s family and all that such a meeting entails. If that wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, Nick has not exactly been forthcoming about the position his family occupies in Singapore’s business, financial and social strata. His family is one of the wealthiest and most prominent in the nation.

Sure, the setup is familiar, but the execution is so charming, sharp, and touching and the production values are so grand that you won’t mind that the plot is about as complex as your average Hallmark movie.

Wu carries much of the weight of the film, and she is wonderful in a role that departs significantly from her TV character. She has the chops for a film career if that’s where she elects to go. Michelle Yeoh plays Eleanor Sung-Young, Nick’s mother and the film’s prime antagonist who seeks to protect his son and her family’s position.

There is a subplot featuring Gemma Chan as Astrid, Nick’s sister, who married beneath her station and the difficulties that she faces that underscores the concern of Nick’s family about Rachel and her intentions.

I really enjoyed this movie. It reminded me of the relationship comedies of the late 1950s and 1960s that made Doris Day and Rock Hudson are remembered for. However, this is a film that would work its charm nearly as well at home as it does on the big screen.

(PG-13) 2 hr. 1 min.
Grade: B

Classic Corner

Run Silent, Run Deep

This weekend Turner Classic Movies’ Summer Under the Stars event continues featuring two of the brightest stars that ever shined in Hollywood.

The films of Clark Gable are featured on Saturday, with the movies of Judy Garland taking the spotlight on Sunday. That’s 48 hours of fantastic films on tap if you have TCM available.

Ironically, neither of the stars’ most well known films are on the schedule — “Gone With the Wind” for Gable and “The Wizard of Oz” for Garland both of which debuted in 1939, a year known for being one of the greatest for films.

For me, Garland’s movies hold up better than Gable’s, but that’s an entirely subjective thought. I’m not the biggest fan of Gable in the first place. I prefer the films of Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, and Gary Cooper from the classic era, but there is no denying Gable’s magnetism. In his hey day, no male star was more popular.

My suggestions for Gable’s films on Saturday are 1934’s “It Happened One Night,” which airs at 7 a.m. C.T. and 1958’s “Run Silent, Run Deep,” which airs at 7 p.m. C.T. The first is an early screw-ball comedy co-starring Claudette Colbert and directed by Frank Capra, while the latter is a WWII drama set on a submarine, directed by Robert Wise and co-starring Burt Lancaster.

TCM’s Clark Gable Film Schedule – Saturday, Aug. 18
5 a.m. – Saratoga (1937)
7 a.m. – It Happened One Night (1934)
9 a.m. – Comrade X (1940)
10:45 a.m. – Band of Angels (1957)
1 p.m. – Command Decision (1948)
3 p.m. – King and Four Queens, The (1956)
4:45 p.m. – Adventure (1945)
7 p.m. – Run Silent, Run Deep (1958)
8:45 p.m. – Boom Town (1940)
11 p.m. – Mogambo (1953)
1:15 a.m. – China Seas (1935)
3 a.m. – Honky Tonk (1941)

A Star is Born

It’s hard to go wrong with any of Garland’s films that are showing Sunday, but my suggestions would be 1942’s “For Me and My Gal,” which co-starred Gene Kelly in his film debut at 1 p.m. It’s about two vaudeville performers who are separated by World War I. The other is the 1954 version of “A Star Is Born” at 10:45 p.m. The remake, directed by George Cukor and co-starring James Mason, is my favorite version of the story about an older star being eclipsed by his younger lover’s career, and the stress it places on the relationship. The 1937 original featured Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. The 1976 third version starred Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, and is a mess except for Streisand’s song “Evergreen” which won an Academy Award and the provocative poster. A third remake is coming to theaters Oct. 5 that is directed by and stars Bradley Cooper and features Lady GaGa. The Garland version is tour de force by the actress. Many critics and film historians hail her performance as the greatest of her grand career. I personally prefer her more whimsical performances with Mickey Rooney, but her version of “A Star Is Born” is a must see at some point for all film buffs.

TCM’s Judy Garland Film Schedule – Sunday, Aug. 19
5 a.m. – Little Nellie Kelly (1940)
7 a.m. – Presenting Lily Mars (1943)
9 a.m. – The Clock (1945)
11 p.m. – Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)
1 p.m. – For Me and My Gal (1942)
3 p.m. – Pirate, The (1948)
5 p.m. – In the Good Old Summertime (1949)
7 p.m. – The Harvey Girls (1946)
9 p.m. – Girl Crazy (1943)
10:45 p.m. – A Star is Born (1954)
2 a.m. – Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)