Crazy Rich Asians is a sublime rom-com, but you don’t have to take it from me, a subjective writer who watched the entire movie through a veil of tears. You can take it from the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes page. For days, Crazy Rich Asians had maintained the rare perfect Rotten Tomatoes score. Unfortunately, the movie has since dropped to a 98%. Regardless of whatever qualms Scott Mendelson of Forbes had with the movie to cause the score's dip, Henry Golding and Awkwafina, two of the movie's stars, are hyped with what amounts to an undeniable A+ grade.
After all, Golding, Awkwafina, and the rest of Crazy Rich Asians' large ensemble cast have been traveling with this movie for a long, long time. Finally, other people get to see — and evaluate — the movie for themselves. Awkwafina, who plays the movie’s hilarious best friend extraordinaire, likens the experience of reading movie reviews to people judging your baby. “It is like having a baby that you think might be ugly and everyone’s like, 'No, that baby is a model. Put that baby in a commercial right now,’” Awkwafina joked in an interview with Refinery29 (at the time of the interview, Crazy Rich Asians still hovered at 100%).
Awkwafina's right — the baby is indeed a model. Crazy Rich Asians is a visually stunning movie, replete with the splendor available to the ultra-wealthy of Singapore. We're talking houses built into the side of mountains, matte pink luxury vehicles, and first-class airplane interiors nicer than your living room. Still, despite being set in a rarefied and glamorous world, the film tells a universal story about familial expectations, against-all-odds love, and monsters-in-law. Golding, who plays Nick Young (or, as a character in movie calls him, "The Prince William of Asia"), thinks that critics of all backgrounds picked up on that very universality while watching the film.
“We’d come out of screenings, and these big burly reviewers — white guys — would say, ‘I’m not a fan of rom-coms, but that was a fucking amazing movie.' These reviewers aren’t of Asian descent; they aren’t swayed by it being the first all-Asian Hollywood movie in 25 years. So you’re just like, ‘Oh wow. We’ve got something special,’” Golding told Refinery29. "It just goes to show the power of storytelling."
Cleary, Crazy Rich Asians is beloved by critics. Given box office projections, the movie is poised to be beloved by audiences, too. It's expected to generate $26 million during its opening weekend, up from the $20 million estimated weeks ago. As the first all-Asian major Hollywood movie produced in 25 years, Crazy Rich Asians' commercial success will send an obvious signal to producers and studios about the tangible payoff of creating quality movies that feature substantial representation. If you build it, audiences shall come.
"The general rumor in Hollywood is that minorities can’t sell pictures. In 25 years, we have not tried for Asian Americans," Awkwafina told Refinery29. "Those reviews are a confirmation of something I always felt. I always knew this film would be a game changer. It’s one thing to make an all Asian movie — and another thing for it all to be good. "
And a 98% Rotten Tomatoes score certainly is a shortcut for "good." Is Rotten Tomatoes the ultimate measure of quality? Of course not. But say what you will about the validity of the score aggregation site — a near perfect Rotten Tomatoes score does send a signal to the potential audiences. It says, “Even if you don’t go the movies, go to this movie. It’s that spectacular.”