Follow TV Tropes

Following

Film / Crazy Rich Asians

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/crazy_rich_asians_3.jpg

"These people aren't just rich — they're crazy rich."
Peik Lin

Crazy Rich Asians is a 2018 Romantic Comedy film adaptation of Kevin Kwan's book of the same name. It is directed by Jon M. Chu and stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, and Ken Jeong. It is notable for being the first American film in 25 years to feature a predominantly Asian cast following the 1993 film adaptation of The Joy Luck Club.

Like the book, it features Rachel Chu (Wu), a Chinese-American economics professor who travels to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young (Golding) to meet his family for his best friend's wedding. Upon arriving, Rachel discovers that Nick and his insanely rich family are the biggest developers in Singapore, and Nick is in line to inherit everything. This creates tension between Rachel and Nick's family, especially his cutthroat mother Eleanor (Yeoh), who doesn't approve of Nick being with a commoner.

A sequel based on the second book on the trilogy, China Rich Girlfriend, is in the works.


This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The movie ends quite differently from the book.
    • In the book, Nick cuts off his relationship with his family and doesn't repair his relationship with them and Rachel until the sequel while in the movie, he and Rachel get back together after Nick proposes; they are also on better terms with Eleanor.
    • The book sees Astrid, at the urging of Charlie, fix her marriage to Michael, while in the film, she leaves him after learning of his affair.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In the book, Michael pretends to have an affair just to make Astrid leave him because he is unhappy for being put down by her relatives. In the film, he does actually have an affair.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Much of the characters are lighter and softer than in the book. Peik Lin's family have a much healthier dynamic than in the book.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Colin's sister and also Astrid's cousin, Sophie, who accompanies Rachel on Araminta's bachelorette party is not in the film.
    • All of Eleanor's bible study friends, which also include Francesca's mother, Nadine and Bernard Tai's mother, Carol, are also not in the film.
    • Cassandra Shang aka "Radio One Asia", Nick's gossipy cousin. Her role is given to Celine Lim in the movie, who only shows up in several scenes with no spoken lines.
    • Dr. Gu, an old friend of Goh Wye Mun who has a wide knowledge of Singapore's most established families and tells him everything about The Youngs. Since The Gohs already know who The Youngs are in the movie, he is left out.
  • Beta Couple: Colin and Araminta are happily getting married with little conflict, compared to Nick and Rachel. They also provide a contrast to other couples, like Eddie and Fiona, Kitty and Alistair, and Astrid and Michael.
  • Big Fancy House: The Young family estate, an absolutely huge mansion. Made more significant since it's a large house in famously land-strapped Singapore.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Some of the dialogues are in unsubtitled Cantonese, Malay and Hokkien.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Amanda initially appears unlike the other socialite girls and was friendly with Rachel. Only to be the one to pull a horrible prank on Rachel once her guard was down.
  • Book-Ends:
    • Early in the film, Nick and Rachel travel on a plane in first class. Towards the end, they're together on a plane again in coach.
    • In the first scene, Rachel bluffs in a game of poker. Near the end, she anti-bluffs a game of mah-jong.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Rachel attempts to break up with Nick in an attempt to help him preserve his relationship with his family. However it's this action that finally earns her Eleanor's respect and blessing, as it is her Emerald ring which Nick uses in his second proposal to Rachel.
  • Camp Gay: Nick's cousin Oliver calls himself the "rainbow sheep" and has the mannerisms to prove it—catty remarks about fashion, finger snaps, etc.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In the first scene, Rachel is teaching a class on game theory. Her understanding of non-zero sum games comes in handy, when she declines Nick's proposal and then explains to Eleanor why stopping the marriage will leave Eleanor worse off.
  • Cool Old Lady: Nick's grandmother zigzags this. She treats Rachel far better than Eleanor and most of the people in the Young family's social circle. Then even she turns against Rachel after learning about her mother. However, she also has several Pet the Dog moments towards her family, such as accompanying Astrid to a wedding when Astrid is feeling downcast about her estranged husband. She also realizes she is the reason why Eleanor is the way she is mistreating her for being of the 'wrong sort', and blames Nick running off after Rachel even after told they could not marry on Eleanor being a poor mother.
  • Costume Porn: Lots of attractive women in very nice dresses.
  • Costume-Test Montage: Rachel gets one while prepping for the wedding. She tries on a variety of dresses and is judged by Peik Lin and Oliver.
    Oliver: "I'm not sure if it's working, or if she looks like a clown's tampon."
    Peik Lin: “On a heavy day.”
  • Crazy-Prepared: Peik Lin keeps a variety of dresses in her car, so as to be ready for any occasion.
    Rachel: "You have a cocktail dress in your trunk?"
    Peik Lin: "I'm not an animal, Rachel."
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Turns out to be the case for Kerry, Rachel's mother. Her husband abused her, so she took comfort with a schoolmate, who would later become Rachel's father. Worried that her husband would find out and kill her once she got pregnant, she fled to America.
  • Dead Animal Warning: Amanda and her friends leave a dead, bleeding fish in Rachel's hotel room along with graffiti accusing her of being a Gold Digger.
    • Fish are symbolic of wealth in China, as the word for fish yú 鱼 is pronounced the same as the word for wealth or surplus yú 余.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Charlie Wu, Astrid's ex-boyfriend. In the book, he has a lot of involvement in Astrid's storyline and is the one who encourages her to go back to her husband despite his unrequited feelings to her. He is absent throughout the entire movie until The Stinger where he meets Astrid.
    • Eddie Cheng, Nick's cousin, is one of the POV characters in the book who tries to impress his friends and relatives but failed because of his family. In this movie, his attempt to make an impression is still present but his role is reduced to dissing Rachel for her background.
    • Francesca, Nick's Rich Bitch ex-girlfriend. While she is an antagonist who basically makes Rachel's life a living hell in Singapore, thus playing a signifcant role in the book, in the movie, she only ends up becoming one of the Those Two Girls who always shows up with Celine Lim, appearing only in a few scenes. Her role from the book instead is given to Amanda.
  • Dirty Old Man: Peik Lin's father Wye Mun is a mild example, offering Rachel a see-through negligee during her Costume-Test Montage.
  • Disappeared Dad: Rachel's father is said to have died at some point before she was born. Eleanor and Su Yi, however, were informed by an investigator that Rachel's mother, Kerry, got pregnant with her via an adulterous affair, and abandoned her husband and fled to America afterwards.
  • Distant Prologue: A prologue set in 1995 features Eleanor buying out a hotel just to spite its racist manager.
  • Enormous Engagement Ring:
    • Subverted with the engagement ring Nick intends to propose Rachel with, the stone looks fairly reasonable-sized.
    • Played straight with Eleanor's humongous emerald ring, given to her by Nick's father when they got married. Nick surprises Rachel with Eleanor's ring when he finally proposes to her as she's about to head back to New York.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The prologue demonstrates how "crazy rich" Nick's family is. A racist hotel manager refuses to accommodate Eleanor and her family. One phone call later, Eleanor's family now owns the hotel.
    • Nick's descriptions of his cousins are juxtaposed with cutaway moments establishing what they're like.
      • Alistair ("works with movies") is introduced directing his (bad) actress girlfriend Kitty in a movie, then pausing filming in order to passionately make out with her.
      • Eddie ("family man") and his family are posing for a Vogue photoshoot. Once it ends, he berates his wife for her outfit and ignores his children.
      • Astrid ("has the biggest heart") stylishly walks through a posh establishment, pauses to be kind to a young girl, before proceeding to nonchalantly buy a pair of earrings for 1.2 million dollars.
  • Fairy Tale Motifs: Rachel at one point is mockingly referred to as Cinderella, seeing how she was able to date Singapore's most eligible bachelor. Her "fairy godmothers" are Peik Lin and Oliver who dressed her up for the wedding ceremony. Also after running away from the wedding reception, there was a shot of her bare feet, as if she had lost her heels (she was simply holding them).
  • Fish out of Water: Middle-class Asian-American academic Rachel is out of place with Singapore's upper class.
  • Food Porn: The movie spends a good time showcasing the different Singaporean delicacies and food in Nick and Rachel's hangout with Colin and Araminta, Eleanor's scene at the kitchen and the Young family's dumpling making.
  • Foreign Cuss Word:
    • Bernard yells out "kukujiao", which is a Singlish/Hokkien slang term for the male genital.
    • He also introduces himself by grabbing a microphone and shouting "What's up, lanjiao", which is the Hokkien equivalent.
  • Foreshadowing: Nick's aunt Alix suggests a private investigator early in the film. Eleanor apparently took her up on this idea and had Rachel's background investigated, which comes to a head at the climax.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Bernard, a flashy, Nouveau Riche party animal who annoys the more chill, down-to-earth Colin and Nick.
  • Genre Throwback: To the romantic comedies that were popular in the late 1990's and early 2000's. It contains a number of standard tropes including a female Fish out of Water lead, a Meet the In-Laws scenario with a hostile parent, a Second-Act Breakup, and a scene at an airport where one lead chases down the other and saves their relationship.
  • The Ghost: Nick's father is not present onscreen as he is away on business.
  • Gold Digger: Rachel is believed to be this by Nick’s mother and friends, and is a major source of friction in the movie.
    • Played straight with Kitty, who ditches Alistair for Bernard as soon as she learns the latter is the sole heir to his family fortune.
  • Gossip Evolution: A variation. A gossip columnist snaps a picture of Rachel and Nick, and, within a matter of minutes, social media figures out that Nick Young is dating a regular New Yorker. News spreads until it reaches Nick's mother and his aunts.
  • Gossipy Hens: Nick's aunts are more inclined to chat about Nick's love life than focus on their bible group.
  • Held Gaze: During the wedding ceremony, Nick and Rachel frequently exchanged these looks.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Peik Lin's pudgy and socially-inept brother P.T., who harbours a hopelessly one-sided crush on Rachel.
  • I Am Very British: Nick has a posh British accent because he apparently grew up studying in fancy British schools.
  • It Seemed Trivial:
    • Nick didn't tell Rachel about his family and background before they head off to Singapore which eventually causes problems in their relationship later on. Though Nick is able to tell her about his family members while traveling, he forgets to tell her some of the very important details such as his family being one of the richest and most famous in the city and him being the supposed heir of his family's fortune and one of the most popular figures in Singapore. Because of this, Rachel finds out of this information from Peik Lin and later, Amanda.
    • Nick also didn't inform his family that he's bringing his girlfriend to the wedding and that he has no intention of going home and inheriting his family's fortune. It takes a gossip columnist to take a picture of them together and spread it among the Singaporean elite until it reaches Nick's mother and his aunts. This eventually causes problems with Rachel and Eleanor, who assumes that the former is a gold digger and is responsible for taking her son away from home.
  • I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Just as Nick learns to choose his girlfriend over his family, Rachel rejects his proposal. She tells Eleanor that it was because she didn't want him to live with the resentment of his family.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Eleanor truly loves Nick as her own son but she's downright antagonistic towards Rachel because, from her point of view, she thinks that Asian Americans are selfish but Rachel proves her wrong that she can break up with Nick to find another woman because she was his first love in the first place making Eleanor accept her.
  • Lighter and Softer: The movie does away with the book's biting satirical voice and presents itself as a straight rom-com rather than a cynical soap opera. Among other changes, Astrid and Michael's subplot is more morally clear-cut, and the movie opts to end with an emotional resolution rather than a Cliffhanger.
  • Love-Obstructing Parents: Eleanor makes it crystal clear that Rachel is nowhere near worthy of joining her family, and all but orders Nick to end the relationship. Ultimately subverted when she eventually relents enough to allow Nick to propose with her own engagement ring.
  • Make-Out Kids: Alistair and Kitty are prone to making out exaggeratedly and inappropriately.
  • Meet the In-Laws: Rachel flies from America to Singapore to meet her boyfriend's family for the first time.
  • Mr. Fanservice: There are many shots of good-looking men without shirts. There is even a shot of Michael coming out of the shower.
  • Mood Whiplash: The film's heavy emotional moments are usually blunted by a lighthearted comedic moment immediately afterward, such as following Eleanor's destroying Rachel's self-esteem with Peik and Rachel clucking like chickens.
  • Mood Dissonance:
    • The scene of Rachel running away from the wedding reception after Eleanor reveals the truth about Rachel's parents is supposed to be sad, but it briefly cuts to her running past Bernard and Kitty getting it on with his pants down.
    • Colin and Araminta's wedding scene is a happy event, with many couples including Rachel and Nick gazing lovingly at each other but the happiness becomes bittersweet when the camera lingers on Astrid, who had just confronted her husband on his cheating.
  • Multigenerational Household: Nick's upbringing, as his grandmother is most definitely the matriarch of the family and they all seemed to live under her roof.
  • Nepotism:
    • Kitty is a bad actress who gets roles because her boyfriend Alistair is financing projects.
    • Amanda mentions that she got the job as the Youngs' general counsel because she grew up around them.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
    • Awkwafina and Ken Jeong both maintain their American accents as despite playing the Singaporean Peik Lin and Wye Mun, with a hand-waved explanation that they somehow picked up heavy American accents while studying abroad for university.
    • Lisa Lu also speaks her Mandarin lines with a heavy Beijing accent.
  • Not So Different: Both Rachel and Eleanor were in love with men who were higher ranking than themselves and had to go through many lengths in order to appease the Young family.
  • Not with Them for the Money: Invoked with Nick and Rachel; Nick kept his family's wealth a secret while in New York so he could form real connections with people not with him for his cash. Even after Rachel finds out, she quickly grows disillusioned with the Singaporean upper class's standards and attitudes.
  • Nouveau Riche: Peik Lin and the Gohs, who are fairly tacky but far kinder than the old-money Youngs, Chengs, and their ilk.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Eleanor tends to get the put-downs and snide remarks from her mother-in-law.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The family's matriarch, Shang Su Yi, is only ever referred to by the Hokkien honorific "Ah Ma".
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: When Colin and Nick had enough of the bachelor party Bernard organized for Colin, they somehow managed to steal a helicopter and fly away to a private area on an island.
  • Penny Among Diamonds: This is part of what makes Rachel such a Fish out of Water (the other is that she was raised in America). She's a middle-class woman raised by a single mother who is suddenly thrust among Singapore's elite, who place great emphasis on family wealth and history.
  • Race for Your Love: Near the end of the film, Rachel is boarding a plane to New York. Nick chases after her and proposes on the plane.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Invoked by Eleanor, who chose to allow her mother-in-law to raise her son. Nick explains that this is because Eleanor knew she herself was not seen as worthy of her husband's family, so she allowed her mother-in-law to raise Nick so that he would be considered the favorite and heir-apparent of the Family Business.
  • Running Gag: Eddie Cheng taking a stiff, stone-faced, unnatural pose every time he's photographed because he thinks it's his "optimal angle."
  • Scary Black Man: The Sikh security guards at the Youngs' mansion come off this way to Rachel and Peik Lin, since they spook the two women in the car.
  • Scenery Porn: The movie showcases the beautiful and famous places in Singapore. It helps that the Singaporean Tourism Board made a contribution on this.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Bernard holds Colin's bachelor party on a converted cargo ship in international waters, where everything is practically legal. He makes his point by nonchalantly blowing away a bikini-clad model from the deck with a rocket launcher.
  • Secretly Wealthy: Nick's family wealth is very famous in Asia, but he purposely downplayed his wealth to Rachel so she is unaware of it at the start of the film. The trope is deconstructed as keeping her in the dark left her completely unprepared to deal with the Culture Clash and judgement that come with her being a "commoner" dating the heir to one of the most prestigious upper class families in Singapore and it nearly wrecks their relationship.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: All of Singapore's upper crust are blown away by Rachel when she arrives at the Wedding.
  • Silence Is Golden: During the wedding, the scene goes completely silent as Araminta steps onto the aisle in order to emphasize how visually stunning and sweet the whole set-up is.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man:
    • Nick is a kind-hearted, caring Nice Guy and it's not hard to see why Rachel was dating him, well before finding out he was very rich.
    • Colin also qualifies for Araminta as he too is a Nice Guy and more down-to-earth compared to other rich socialites.
  • Spoiled Sweet:
    • Astrid, a member of one of Asia's richest families. She enjoys the finer things in life, and also maintains a kind and sweet personality. She is also one of the only members of Nick's family to actually befriend Rachel and not judge her for her position as working class.
    • Araminta is the wealthy heiress to a prominent resort chain. Despite this, she's a cheerful, generous party girl who openly befriends Rachel and doesn't seem to mind her background.
    • Peik Lin, Rachel's rich, generous best friend and ex-roommate from college who gives Rachel designer clothes to meet Nick's family and attend Colin and Araminta's wedding.
  • Standard Snippet: Ride of the Valkyries is heard during the helicopter ride to the bachelor party hosted by Bernard.
  • The Stinger: Astrid meets Charlie during Rachel and Nick's engagement party.
  • Struggling Single Mother: Rachel's mother Kerry, who raised Rachel on her own, as Rachel repeatedly tells Nick's family members that her father died before she was born. Taken Up to Eleven when it is revealed that her husband was actually abusive to her, and she decided to flee to America, becoming pregnant by the man who was kind to her and helped her escape.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: Rachel breaks up with Nick because she doesn't want him to live with the resentment of his family. This causes Elanor to have second thoughts about Asian Americans being selfish, and gives Nick her blessing to marry Rachel.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Rachel's mother Kerry had her out of wedlock because her husband was abusive. Rachel's father helped her get through it.
  • Take a Third Option: It becomes obvious to Rachel that if Nick stays with her, it means losing his family, while breaking up with her might mean he eventually comes to resent his mother for forcing that choice. Rachel surprises Eleanor with the third option: She breaks up with him first.
  • Title Drop: Peik Lin says that Nick's family isn't just rich, they're "crazy rich."
  • Translated Cover Version: The film includes Chinese covers of "Money (That's What I Want)", Madonna's "Material Girl", and Coldplay's "Yellow".
  • Uptown Girl: Nick and Astrid, scions of one of Singapore's richest families, are far wealthier than their partners Rachel and Michael. The latter even lampshades it when Astrid says that he'll like Rachel, asking if it's because they're both commoners.
    • The conflict of the film is Rachel being out of place with the wealthy Nick's social circle.
    • The socioeconomic difference between Astrid and Michael is part of what destroys their marriage, since Michael is unhappy with how Astrid keeps trying to please her rich family while Astrid is constantly downplaying herself so he fits in.
  • You No Take Candle: Subverted with Wye Mun, who at first speaks to Rachel in broken English before revealing that it's a joke — he's actually fluent since he studied in America.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Michael, Astrid's husband, is having an affair. Kitty also later ditches Alistair for Bernard when she finds out he's the sole heir to his own family's fortune.
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo: The central drama of the movie is Nick's family not approving of Rachel due to their American vs Chinese Culture Clash. Rachel sees her mother supporting her in her goals of pursuing her passion as a positive, prideful achievement, while that very aspect of her life is deeply offensive to Eleanor, for whom family is everything.
  • Your Tradition Is Not Mine: Nick ultimately chooses his love for Rachel over the tradition and approval of his family.

Top