Film Review: “Crazy Rich Asians”


Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yoeh
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hrs
Warner Bros.
Romantic comedies can often be a dime a dozen with about as much substance contained in the atmosphere of Mars. Of course, there are brilliant, diamond-like exceptions such as 2017’s “The Big Sick” or 2012’s “Silver Linings Playbook.” While the new “Crazy Rich Asians” may not be nearly as creative or fulfilling as those movies, it’s still at least as good as an unpolished sapphire.
Directed by Jon M. Chu, best known for such “legendary” works as “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” and “Now You See Me 2,” “Crazy Rich Asians” is based upon the 2013 novel of the same name by Singaporean/American novelist Kevin Kwan. It begins in a flashback when Eleanor Young (Michelle Yoeh, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) is denied entrance into a posh New York City hotel when the white manager sees that she is of Chinese descent. What the racist manager doesn’t know is that Eleanor and her husband, whom we strangely never meet during the movie despite being very much alive, are the hotel’s new owners. It’s a scene that sets up her fierceness, which we later see in an unfavorable light.
Flash forward to present day when brilliant American economics professor Rachel Chu (played sweetly by Constance Wu, “Fresh Off the Boat”) is invited by her longtime boyfriend Nick Young (British/Malaysian actor/model/TV host Henry Golding) to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. However, charming Nick has not been completely forthright with Rachel when he reveals on the plane that he comes from a wealthy Singapore family, the scope of which she is too naïve to fathom yet.
Upon their arrival in Singapore, Rachel is swept away by a night out in Nick’s vibrant hometown with his best friend and his fiancé. Despite descriptions he gives of his family and their business empire, it’s not until Rachel visits her outlandish college friend Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina, “Ocean’s 8”) that she learns just how influential the Young family is. The real problem, though, is not necessarily the vast gulf between Nick’s upbringing and hers. Instead, it’s the fact that she is an American of Chinese descent and not directly from China, which is something Eleanor is less than fond of.
So, between Eleanor and a myriad of jealous, petty Singapore girls who do everything they can to drive her off, Rachel has her work cut out for her if she wishes to see her relationship with Nick continue.
“Crazy Rich Asians” has nothing all that new to offer to the romantic comedy genre. It has all the prerequisite boxes you can check off like clockwork – resistant parents of one or both members of the couple; crazy, jealous exes; a goofy best friend that can always be depended upon; a goofy friend that no should ever count on; an impending marriage of some sort; etc. In that sense, “Crazy Rich Asians” is about as crazy as a block of wood.
Despite its stereotypical characters and plot we have seen a plethora of times in various forms, “Crazy Rich Asians’ still manages to be an entertaining flick. There are plenty of genuine laughs to be had, especially in scenes involving the hilarious Awkwafina and/or her character’s equally goofy father played by “Hangover” alum Ken Jeong. The romance itself will undoubtedly pull at some heartstrings plus there is a fantastic side story of eventual female empowerment that will make anyone feel good.
All in all, “Crazy Rich Asians” is a great date flick for any couple of any age, but don’t expect go into expecting to see something that truly separates itself from general, romantic comedy fair.

Blu-ray Review “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (The Rich Mahogany Edition)”

Starring: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Fred Willard
Director: Adam McKay
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG-13 / Unrated
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: December 3, 2013
Run Time: 94 / 97 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” is with no question one of the best comedies of all-time. The film wasn’t that huge in theaters but became a cult classic very quickly when it hit DVD. I do not think that there is one day that goes by that I do not quote this film, numerous times in fact. It is also one of those films that you can watch over and over and it does not get old in fact it only gets better. The “Rich Mahogany” Edition features three versions of the film: the theatrical version, an unrated version and Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie, all presented here on Blu-ray in glorious high definition. This Blu-ray was originally released as a Best Buy Exclusive back in 2010 but is FINALLY getting an expanded release to take advantage of the long-awaited sequel’s release this Christmas in theaters. This is a must for any fan of this film and yes it is worth the double dip.

Official Premise: Will Ferrel (Old School, Elf) is Ron Burgundy, a top-rated 1970’s San Diego anchorman who believes women have a place in the newsroom – as long as they stick to covering fashion shows or late-breaking cooking stories. So when ron is told he’ll be working with a bright young newswoman (Christina Applegate) who’s beautiful, ambitious and smart enough to be more than eye candy, it’s not just a clash of two TV people with really great hair – it’s war! Filled with wicked wit and slapstick humor, Anchorman is the year’s most wildly irreverent, must-see comedy hit!

Paramount has given this Blu-ray release a lot of love. I just wish they would have updated this release from it being a Best Buy Exclusive and included an Ultraviolet Digital Copy with this updated release. We get both the 94-minute theatrical cut and the longer 97 minute extended cut of the film on the first disc. Besides the various cuts of the film, there is also Ron’s personal 32-page diary – “The Many Months of Burgundy” included as well as a very cool set of 12 Trading Cards, really a must for any fan of the film. In terms of presentation, the 1080p transfer is quite impressive within its 1.78:1-framed transfer, or at least as far as comedies go. Same goes for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which is a typical of a comedy high definition track but works very well.

So let’s get to some of the special features now, this “Rich Mahogany Edition” two-disc Blu-ray release of “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” has no shortage of goodies. The first disc consists of an audio commentary track with Director/Writer Adam McKay; Actor/Writer Will Ferrell; Musicians Lou Rawls and Kyle Gass; Entertainer Andy Richter; and Actors Paul Rudd, David Koechner, and Christina Applegate. These commentary tracks really add tons of great replay value to this film. Disc one also includes a collection of 36 deleted and extended scenes,which run just short of an hour. There is also a blooper reel, the “Afternoon Delight” music video and Ron Burgundy’s ESPN SportsCenter Audition.

Disc two kicks off with one hell of a special feature which would be the full-length film “Wake Up, Ron Burgundy”. It is a full-length film that was pieced together from various cut scenes and various subplots that didn’t make the final cut of “Anchorman”. There is also a brief “Intro-Commentary” for Wake Up, Ron Burgundy, which runs just under 13 minutes with Will Ferrell and Aaron Zimmerman. Honestly worth the purchase of the release alone just for this film in high definition.  Also included there are five Ron Burgundy Public Service Announcements, Ron Burgundy’s 1970 Emmy Awards speech. “Raw Footage ‘Good Takes'” includes nearly 40 minutes of more alternate takes and improvisations. Next up is “Afternoon Delight” Recording Session, “Happy Birthday AMC Loews” covering Loews’ 100th birthday. There are various interviews from the 2004 MTV Music Awards with Rebecca Romijn, Jim Caviezel, and Burt Reynolds. There are also three short featurettes including “Cinemax: The Making of ‘Anchorman'”, “Comedy Central Reel Comedy: ‘Anchorman'” and “A Conversation With Ron Burgundy”.

You think we are done yet? Well we still have more! There are cast auditions for Christina Applegate, David Koechner, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, Kevin Corrigan, and Justin Long. There is a Table Read from 6/2/03 and more rehearsal footage included. “Playback Video” is a collection of the news team’s more embarrassing moments. Same goes for “Commercial Break”, which is more funny moments from the “Anchorman” set. Lastly we get the film’s teaser trailer, theatrical trailer and “Trounced Spiderman” TV Spot. So obviously, this release is a must-have for any “Anchorman” fan since it really delivers to its fans!

Rich Moore talks about directing Disney's "Wreck-It Ralph"

Rich Moore is the director of Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph”. He is best known for working on TV shows like “The Simpsons” and “Futurama”. “Wreck-It Ralph” has been nominated for both Golden Globes and Academy Award for Best Animated Film. It is set to be released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 5th. Media Mikes had the pleasure to chat with Rich to discuss the film and hopes for a sequel.

Mike Gencarelli: Just wanted to tell you how much I loved this film and that Media Mikes had voted “Wreck it Ralph” the best animated film of the year.
Rich Moore: Thanks. Wow, it was a great year so that is a huge compliment. Thank you that means so much.

MG: With “Wreck-It Ralph” being your feature directorial debut; how does this experience compare from your television work including “Futurama” and “The Simpsons”?
RM: It is different but the same. You know? With “Futurama” and “The Simpsons”, those were amazing projects to work with. Some of the people I worked with on those projects are some of the funniest and most talented people in that medium. My jobs on them were very much like the job I have on “Wreck-It Ralph”. I am telling the best story I can with heart, emotion and humor, while also having characters that we care about and make sure that the audience invests in and identifies with. In that regard “The Simpsons” and “Wreck-It Ralph” feel very similar. I feel like I am right in my element. On the hand, the machine itself here at Disney is big. In order to make these feature films it takes an army of artists to put them together over a long period of time. I feel like a kid in candy shop. It’s like going from having a toy train to running a real train [laughs]. It is fun and really great. It is just wild also just being at the studio during this process.

MG: Have you always wanted to be in this position?
RM: When I was a kid, the first film I saw in the theater was “The Jungle Book”. I was five years old at the time and it really got its hooks into me. It affected me in a way that really early on that I wanted to be involved with animation…or as much as a five year old could express that. So to find myself here at this point in my career at Disney Animation, at the place that put the bug in me, and adding my contribution to Disney movies is a spectacular feeling. It really goes down pretty deep.

MG: The cameos in the film are jam-packed but not overwhelming; what was the process for choosing which iconic characters to use?
RM: Well we always wanted to use the ones that felt appropriate to the scene. We definitely went for the ones that we loved as kids and now as adults. Early on in the production, I put up a big bulletin board in the break room with a sign asking what characters needed to be in the movie. We filled up that board quickly and kept that on hand and used it as a reference throughout. We didn’t just choose them all willy-nilly. It was based on characters that we loved and would need to see in the movie.

MG: You voiced Sour Bill and Zangief of Street Fighter in the film, which are two of my favorites. How did that come about?
RM: Thank You. What is funny about that was that those two performances started out as temporary dialogue – scratch dialogue. When it came time to cast actors in those roles, I was talking with John Lasseter about it, our executive producer, and I told him what I was thinking for Sour Bill and he asked me “Why do you want to change Sour Bill, it perfect?”. I told him it was just scratch dialogue but he told me to keep it in and that it was great. He also said the same thing for Zangief. So I am a reluctant actor.

MG: Well you know “Who else would crush man’s skull like sparrow’s egg…”
[laughs] That’s right [In Zangief’s voice] “like sparrow’s egg between my thighs” [laughs].

MG: When this film came out, I asked my mom if she was going to see it and she asked “I don’t know much about games, would I enjoy”; how can you address this concern for the non-gamers?
RM: Sure, that was something that I was very concerned about in the beginning. I didn’t want it to be so inside video games that only gamers would get it and enjoy it. It was very important to me that even if you just heard of video games but never played that you could watch the movie and enjoy it as much as a hardcore gamer. I was always checking this aspect as we were developing the story. I had a little core group of people. Some were hardcore gamers, casual gamers and some that didn’t play at all. I used them as a balancing stick to make sure if they were all equally enjoying it and able to relate. Once all those three points lined up, I knew that we got it in a good spot where everyone would be able to enjoy it. It was very important to me that that aspect was front and center.

MG: Well since then she has seen it twice and loves quoting it, especially the Oreo chant [laughs].
RM: It is funny that you can still make a joke about a movie that is over 70 years old and cookie that is over a hundred years old…and it still feels new.

MG: I also liked how you have little fun cameos like Devil Dogs, which are now not being made any more. So it is cool to see them get put in a piece of history.
RM: My experience on “The Simpsons”, Matt Groening would always remind us that the show is not for children, not for teenagers, or adults – it is for everybody. If we are making it too childish then we are losing a big part of our audience. If we are making it too adult then we are losing another part. The stuff that I love working on is the projects that don’t talk down to kids and doesn’t insult the intelligence of the adults. I think that the Pixar movies do that so well, as does the shows like “Futurama” and “The Simpsons”. These can play across and be a true family film or a piece of entertainment and that is my favorite kind of stuff.

MG: Is “Wreck-It Ralph 2” in the cards for you? What can we expect?
RM: The creative team would jump at it in a New York minute. The actors, the animators and myself – we all had such a great time making this movie and working together. We became like a family. It was such a cool experience. We really love these characters. There has been some talk about doing it and I am sure there will be some more talk about it. But we are all keeping out fingers crossed and hoping we get to go back there.

Rich Eisen talks about TNT’s new reality series “The Great Escape”

A graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in communications, Rich Eisen is probably best known to sport fans as the face of the NFL Network, which he joined after seven years at ESPN. He has also added his commentary to several of VH1’s various “I Love the….” decade shows and last year appeared in the very funny short “Field of Dreams 2” on Funny or Die. He can also currently be seen (actually heard) as the marathon announcer in the new film “That’s My Boy.” Eisen’s latest project is as host of the new action/reality show “The Great Escape,” which debuts this Sunday evening on TNT. Rich took some time recently to speak with Media Mikes about his love for football, his reality show skills and how he hopes to follow Dan Patrick to “Sandler Stardom!”

Mike Smith: How did you get involved with “The Great Escape?”
Rich Eisen: Charlie Ebersol, who is one of the producers, and his partner, Justin Hochberg…they created the show. They sat me down about a year ago and showed me on his iPhone a demo reel for “The Great Escape” that was constructed by Ron Howard, whose production company he runs with Brian Grazer, Imagine Entertainment, is one of the show’s producers, as well as the creators and producers of “The Amazing Race.” And I decided that if they wanted to bring to life what they just showed me on their iPhone…what was leaping off of that small screen and snapping my lapels back…well, I told them “tell me more!” (laughs) And now here we are, about to show it to the fickle beast that is the American viewing public. I don’t want to jinx it but it’s got everything that appears to appeal to the folks that like to watch this kind of programming. I mean it’s got EVERYTHING in it that will push their buttons. I’m really excited for it.

MS: With NFL training camps starting up next month with your duties on the show interfere in your NFL Network gig?
RE: No. We’ll be done shooting this season’s shows by the end of this month (June). I’m ready for the NFL season. I’ll tell you that. It’s a great thing, too. I’m really involved in two of the greatest reality projects around. “The Great Escape,” obviously. And the NFL. THAT’S 22-26 weeks of drama. Each and every week.

MS: Besides “The Great Escape,” is there a reality show you wouldn’t mind appearing on?
RE: You know I’d really like to try “The Great Escape.” I’d love to see how I’d handle it. I’d choose Warren Sapp (former Tampa Bay Buccaneer great) to do it with me because he’d be able to handle both the physical and the mental challenges. I’d love to do that. That would be a lot of fun. And when folks see this show that’s going to be their general sense…they’re going to want to do this. It’s going to call to them from the television.

MS: I caught your work in the new Adam Sandler film “That’s My Boy” earlier this week. Any plans of following your buddy Dan Patrick into bigger roles on the silver screen?
RS: (laughs) Dan always makes it seem like he’s the gatekeeper but it’s still really Adam Sandler and his producing partner, Jack Garraputo, who call the shots. I’m working my way into the rotation. “That’s My Boy” is a double edged sword because, though I’m involved in the funniest scene in the film, most people don’t hear me because they’re rolling in the aisles! But, that said, I can only aspire to be what Dan is in the Sandler oeuvre’!

Interview with Kansas’ Rich Williams

Rich Williams is the lead guitarist from band Kansas.  The band is responsible for such memorable songs such as “Carry on Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind”.  The band is currently touring the country with there Collegiate Symphony Tour.  Media Mikes was able to chat with Rich about the tour and what he enjoys most about performing on the stage.

Mike Gencarelli: What can we expect from this year’s Collegiate Symphony Tour?
Rich Williams: The tour is going great! This was something we started last year and because of the great response we received we decided to do it again this year. We are hoping that the more colleges we play others will pick up on what we are doing and they will want us to play at their school as well. It’s been a great time.

MG: What has it been like working with the college students on the shows?
RW: It’s a lot of fun. The students seem to really enjoy it and they get to do something they may normally not have the chance to do in their normal curriculum.

MG: What do you like most about performing live as of late?
RW: It’s hard to describe as this is what I have always done. A long time ago I used to work at a liquor store while I was in college and then I started playing. I really haven’t done anything else. It’s a normal day to me. Everything is really fun however, when we have a couple weeks off I tend to go a little stir crazy.

MG: Is there one song that you really enjoy playing live each night?
RW: There are a lot of songs I enjoy. We have added quite a few songs to the set recently. We added a song called “Down The Road” back into the set. We have been playing a lot of symphony shows as well as shows at state fairs. There are some songs that don’t work without the symphony so we have to fill that time in. We haven’t played “Down The Road” live in a year or two. A lot of times we will pick a song, rehearse it in the dressing room and then go out and play it. It’s fun not to be on auto pilot.

MG: What were the bands initial inspirations?
RW: Everyone in Topeka at the time was in a band after the British Invasion hit. Some people eventually lost interest or got a day job. After a while the musicians who were left were the ones who either wanted play the Holiday Inn lounge or who really wanted to make it.  We were all really inspired by the things coming out of Europe and none of us were ready for a real job yet. All of us wanted to do real original music and that’s what really got us started.

MG: What type of music have you been listening to lately that you really enjoy?
RW: I really don’t listen to music as of late. I am just so busy that I don’t have time for anything. If I do listen to something it’s probably because I walked past a speaker that was playing something and that’s what I am listening to.

MG: Your song “Carry On Wayward Son” was featured in the video game “Guitar Hero”. Have you ever tried playing it?
RW: Before “Guitar Hero” came out they sent me all the hardware for it. The thing is I never heard back from them. I wasn’t really too interested in the game but my kids did enjoy playing it. The game has brought a lot of new people to our concerts and it has really sparked something. In my opinion anything that promotes playing music is great.

MG: “Dust In The Wind” is often used quite a bit in movies. How do you feel about the ongoing popularity of the song?
RW: Those things are what keep us out there. Both the songs you mentioned are bigger than we are. People a lot of the time know the songs but they don’t know us as a band.

MG: Are there any plans to record and release new material?
RW: It would be great to do one but then there is reality. They take a lot of time and money to put together. We are out there playing because we love it. Not for the money. If we were going to be recording an album it would be us as a band paying for that. Besides the fact that I am not independently, radio won’t play anything new and people don’t really come to shows to hear new material. Once you realize that reality that people don’t truly care about new material you have to come up with a way to recreate yourself. That’s why we did the symphony album and tour. It’s a way of doing something different and fresh with what you already have.