Randall Park explained why he decided to open his directorial debut film “Shortcomings” with a “Crazy Rich Asians” spoof.
Park, 48, told The Washington Post that he and screenwriter Adrian Tomine, who also created the 2007 graphic novel of the same name that the movie is based on, thought the onscreen adaptation could use a few updates to portray the current social climate.
“We just felt like using a ‘Crazy Rich Asians’-like film to open the movie felt modern, but also very real, because characters like Ben (the movie’s lead protagonist) are so real to me,” the “Fresh Off the Boat” actor said.
“When ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ came out, it was this big movement and everyone was so excited because it was such a big deal, but there were always people who almost felt like they were being pressured to like it,” he continued. “Ben as a character really embodies a lot of folks that I knew who were almost resentful at the movie for kind of pressuring them to like it.”
The critically acclaimed graphic novel follows Ben Tanaka, a Japanese American man in his late 20s, on his search for contentment and the perfect girl.
Through his graphic novel, Tomine, an Eisner Award-winning cartoonist, uses a humorous, honest approach to delve into several real-life topics, such as racial politics and modern culture.
Describing Ben as a “highly opinionated” and “very judgmental” person, Park said the character epitomizes the people who felt forced to like “Crazy Rich Asians” due to community pressure.
“The idea of feeling like he has to like a movie like that because of the community, it really bristles with him, and I think that was a very real thing,” the “Blockbuster” star told The Washington Post. “One movie can’t represent everybody, and certainly not someone like Ben.”
While Park has directed several Channel 101 internet series in the past, he noted that he did not initially intend on spearheading “Shortcomings.”
“Not necessarily to direct, but just to maybe produce because it had been so long since the book came out and I was just surprised that no one had ever done anything with it,” he explained.
After learning that the graphic novel had been picked up for an adaptation and that a script penned by Tomine was already in the works, Park admitted that he threw in his name as meetings with potential directors were being held.
For the film version of “Shortcomings,” Park explained that he wanted the inner workings of Ben and the other characters, whom he described as “very flawed people,” to come across clearly.
“I really wanted to make sure that with Ben we got the sense that there’s a deep sense of loneliness that’s fueling his tirades and his arguments and his opinions, just this real fear of change and fear of growth, because those things are so relatable for me,” he said.
“Shortcomings” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Thursday.
The movie stars Justin H. Min as Ben, Sherry Cola as Alice, Ally Maki as Miko, Tavi Gevinson as Autumn, Sonoya Mizuno as Meredith, Jacob Batalon as Gene, Debby Ryan as Sasha and Timothy Simons as Leon.