By Serene Goh
This is about a guy, a girl, and his mother. Add to the pot some mansions. Mahjong. Machinations. Big budget. Sharks in a tank. Now it’s a rom com on ‘roids. Author Kevin Kwan’s story reveals a Singapore most do not see. Then funny woman Michelle Chong Ah Lian-ed it with her Kao campaign.
I haven’t yet read the books or seen the show. I’m likely to do both. Someday. Then again, empowered by #CrazyRichAsians, this sleep-deprived Mombie can already pretend to love it all.
After I Googled “Jon M Chu”, the CRA trailer programmatically dogged me for months. I cannot get away: Facebook, the office, WhatsApp, Instagram, radio, teasers ahead of YouTube cartoons I watch with my child. So now, like the worn flip-flops preferred by fair to middling rich Asians, I am too familiar with it.
From a marketer’s standpoint, its value is greater than its box office success (a hit in the United States with US$45 million ahead of its Asia-wide roll out, which cost US$30 million to produce). It is a watershed, for lodging the soft culture of Singapore in lights.
Props to Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore Film Commision for supporting it, even if the main cast wasn’t Singaporean. So what? Daniel Day-Lewis is British-Irish and won Best Actor for playing American President Abraham Lincoln.
The film is a fine capstone to the past 12 months’ chatter associated with the nation: first, with the Passion Made Possible campaign to position it as place where dreams can come true, then the Trump-Kim Summit, which bumped it to top of mind as the destination for businesses and conventions.
What’s in the secret sauce? Take it from someone who only aspires to see it:
Me, I’m curious about the spin-off videos being co-produced by STB with Warner Bros, with Singaporean cast members Fiona Xie, Janice Koh and Tan Kheng Hua talking about the cultures behind CRA’s featured locations. If responses to Crazy Rich Asians are anything to go by, audiences are more than ready to toast this city’s other features: its untold stories, multiculturalism, humour, and people.
Serene is the Head of Editorial Content at Sweet. She believes in the power of stories and their tellers.