Follow TV Tropes


Film / Crazy Rich Asians

Go To

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

Crazy Rich Asians is a 2018 Romantic Comedy film, and an adaptation of Kevin Kwan's book of the same name. It is directed by Jon M. Chu, written by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, 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.

Rachel Chu (Wu), a Chinese-American economics professor, 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.

Two sequels based on the other two books in the trilogy, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems, are in the works.

Now with a Character Sheet.

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.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In the books, there is a Young family fortune but no business, freeing Nick to pursue whatever career he wants. Thus he became a history professor and his parents' desire for him to return to Singapore is merely that: his parents' wish. In the movie, Nick is still a history professor, yet he and his parents both expected him to take over the film-created Young Family Corporation someday, raising the question of why he became a professor and how long he thought he'd be able to put off returning to Singapore.
  • 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 Name Change: The name of one of the Goh family's three dogs is changed from Trump to Rockefeller. The book was written in 2012, after all. The Trump name is still mentioned, though, when Peik Lin says that her parent’s incredibly gaudy interior was inspired by Donald Trump’s bathroom.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Much of the characters are lighter and softer than in the book. Peik Lin's family has a much healthier dynamic than in the book.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • Eleanor and Amanda's mother, Jacqueline Ling, don't really get along in the book. In the movie, they seem to be on friendlier terms, having Bible study together.
    • Eleanor also doesn't socialize much with her sisters-in-law, Felicity and Alix, in the books. This is partly because Alix lives in Hong Kong instead of Singapore but mostly because the Young sisters have never fully embraced Eleanor.
    • In the movie, both Eddie and Alistair are close enough friends with Colin to get invited to his bachelor party. In the book, Eddie thinks this is the case, but only Alistair gets invited.
    • In the movie, Eddie remarks that his family disapproved of his marriage to Fiona. In the books, Su Yi remarks that the Youngs have known Fiona's family for years, and everyone treats her as one of their own.
    • Amanda is actually Araminta's archrival in the books and would never have been invited to her bachelorette party. She was merged with Francesca Shaw for the movie.
    • Nick's father Philip is absent because he's always going to meetings around the world for the family business, rather than because he's fed up with his family's behavior and living elsewhere.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Colin's sister and also Astrid's cousin, Sophie, who accompanies Rachel at Araminta's bachelorette party, is not in the film.
    • Most of Eleanor's Bible study friends—including 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.
    • Nick's father Philip, a minor presence in the books, is left out completely.
    • Patric, Peik Lin's stylist. His role in the story is given to Oliver.
    • Rachel's friend and coworker Sylvia, who introduced her to Nick.
    • While Araminta's friends are present for her bachelorette party, none are given a name or lines except for Amanda.
    • Colin's close friend Mehmet and his cousin Lionel are absent from the bachelor party.
  • Always Identical Twins: Peik Lin's younger sisters are identical twins. There's also a pair of identical twins at Araminta's bachelorette party.
  • And Starring: With Ken Jeong and Michelle Yeoh.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Most often with us being led to believe another character (usually female) will prove to be the supporter Rachel needs, only to become the latest to give her a thumbs-down.
    • At the beginning, we think Rachel is competing in a poker tournament — until the lights go up and it's revealed she's teaching a class.
    • Eleanor seems to be warming up to Rachel on the staircase — until her last line: "You'll never be enough."
    • As one of the Young family corporation lawyers, Amanda seems to have a little more in common with Rachel and supportive — until she sends the text telling the other bachelorette party guests to go ahead with the Dead Animal Warning.
    • It seems from the way Eleanor and her sisters-in-law look on as Rachel strikes up a conversation with Princess Intan at the wedding that they might reevaluate her, but they don't.
    • Su Yi tells Rachel her nose has a lucky shape and seems to be the one who will tell Eleanor to come to her senses — but after finding out about Rachel's background, she politely but firmly tells Rachel to have nothing to do with her family.
    • Averted with Astrid, who helps Rachel bury the fish and the bloodstained sheets and seems genuinely repulsed by the other guests' behavior in doing that.
    • Outside of that context, the scene with Nick and Colin seems to be setting you up for Colin telling Nick he doesn't really want to marry Araminta, but that doesn't happen.
    • In the mahjong scene, we are led to believe that Rachel will win improbably and thus impress Eleanor, but she loses (although it is subverted for those who understood fully what was going on: that she could easily have won but deliberately lost to show Eleanor that she is in control of the situation.
  • 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 the famously land-strapped Singapore.note 
  • Bilingual Bonus: Some of the dialogues are in unsubtitled Cantonese, Malay, Mandarin, and Hokkien.
  • Billionaire Wristband: The uber-wealthy Astrid gifts her husband Michael a vintage Rolex Daytona Paul Newman (worth hundreds of thousands of dollars) to help him look the part of a CEO.
  • 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.
    • Nick's grandmother. She acts nice towards Rachel during most of the film. Even after it's revealed how she gave Nick's mother, Eleanor, a hard time for years before finally accepting her marrying Nick's father because she wouldn't give up. It seemed like age and wisdom had given her a Heel–Face Turn, until towards the end of the film, when she reveals her true colors to Rachel and shows that she is a Silk Hiding Steel type, who still finds every opportunity she can to attack and blame Eleanor for every little thing.
  • 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.
  • Bowdlerise: Rachel's encounter of the Dead Animal Warning was completely cut out in the Indian release of the film, due to a clause in India's 1952 Cinematograph Act which states that "animal cruelty is not to be presented needlessly".
  • 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.
  • But Not Too Gay: Oliver is out and proud, but has no love interests at all.
  • 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.
  • Cast Full of Rich People: The film wastes no time in establishing just how conspicuously wealthy Southeast Asia's 0.1% is. The Youngs (real-estate moguls) have a Big Fancy House in famously land-strapped Singapore, Astrid casually buys a pair of earrings costing over a million dollars in her Establishing Character Moment, and Colin's and Araminta's bachelor/ette parties are a rave on a luxury cruise ship and a luxurious getaway on a private island, respectively, to say nothing of their royal-wedding-worthy nuptials. Rachel winds up being a Penny Among Diamonds, unsure of her status among them.
  • Casting Gag: Filipino actress Kris Aquino plays a Malay princess who is a guest at Araminta and Colin's wedding. Aquino herself is, however, a Real Life Crazy Rich Asian, being both a celebrity and a descendant of a landed, oligarchic, mixed Chinese-Filipino family, the Cojuangco-Aquinos, who hold immense economic and political power — no less than her late mother and brother have both been former Philippine Presidents.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In her first interaction with Eleanor, Rachel admits that she does not know her father because he presumably died before she was born. This comes back to bite her hard when Eleanor reveals that she used a private investigator to find out more details about Rachel, including who her father really is.
    • Rachel gives a compliment to Eleanor's emerald engagement ring. The ring is later used in Nick's second proposal to Rachel and is actually a message to Rachel that Eleanor approves of their relationship.
  • 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.
  • Childhood Friends: Nick and Colin have specifically known each other since they were "in nappies", explaining their strong bond.
  • Composite Character: Philip Young buys the hotel in the prologue instead of Henry Leong (Astrid's father).
  • Compressed Adaptation: The book has an enormous roster of characters that simply wouldn't have fit into the movie.
  • 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 that 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 being 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.
  • Cowardice Callout: Astrid calls her husband Michael a coward for his insecurities and ego, telling him that it's not Astrid's parents' wealth that's the problem in their married life: it's him.
  • 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.note 
    "Catch this, you gold-digging bitch!"
  • Death Glare: Kerry, Rachel's mother, gives one to Eleanor as they are leaving the Mahjong shop.
  • 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. He was also Adapted Out of the prologue.
    • 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 significant 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 abusive 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.
  • Don't Create a Martyr: Nonlethal, civilian variant. Rachel confronted Eleanor invoking this and I Let You Win. If Eleanor still won't approve Rachel's relationship with Nick, then Rachel will walk out voluntarily. But with that, Eleanor will forever be reminded that it was Rachel, whom she considered a lowly commoner, who enabled her family to be happy in the future.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Crazy Rich Asians" can mean "Asians who are obscenely wealthy" or "insane Asians who have a lot of money." Both meanings are just as applicable.
  • 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 ("down-to-earth" and "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.
  • Facial Dialogue: As Kerry helps Rachel pick a dress to make a good first impression on her boyfriend's family, whom she knows nothing about, she struggles with a bout of insecurity:
    Rachel: I mean, his parents can't not like me, right?
    Kerry: (doesn't meet her daughter's eyes; walks out of frame)
    Rachel: What was that look? I saw that!
  • 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).
  • Family Honor: A deleted scene shows Eleanor and Nick arguing about Rachel after it was discovered she was conceived via an adulterous affair, with Eleanor insisting that sacrifices must be made to preserve the reputation of her family, including whatever it is that makes Nick the happiest. Nick, however, is adamant in his stance that Rachel is what makes him the happiest.
    Eleanor: You have to know I have my reasons.
    Nick: To part with the one that I love.
    Eleanor: Love is a feeling, and feelings pass. But our family—
    Nick: It's always about our family. "Everything I think and do is for our family." But why does it mean that I lose the person that makes me the happiest that I've ever been?
    Eleanor: Sometimes, you have to make hard decisions.
    Nick: Please, stop.
    Eleanor: No, it's not just for our family. It's for all those families that depend on us and our work; this is not something you can walk away from. You have no idea what your father and I have done for you. What I've sacrificed.
    Nick: Like giving me up to Ah Ma?
    Eleanor: I can live with her, hating. But I didn't want that hate to touch you. I did it so you can have everything.
    Nick: I didn't ask for that.
    Eleanor: You didn't have to.
    Nick: What I needed was you. Have you ever asked yourself that?
    Eleanor: (sighs) You never said anything.
    Nick: I know what it feels like to give something up. After all those years apart, can you stand there and honestly tell me that it was worth it?
    Eleanor: ...Yes.
  • Fat Bastard: Bernard is noticeably chunkier than his "friends" Nick and Colin, and much more unpleasant.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Singapore Airlines declined to let their name and branding be used in what would have otherwise been a justifiednote  Product Placement, so the very similar Pacific Asean Airlines was created for the film.
  • Fish out of Water: Middle-class Asian-American academic Rachel is out of place with Singapore's upper class.
  • The Flapper: Invoked; Araminta's wedding reception dress is reminiscent of a 1920's flapper.
  • Flower Motifs: The queen of the night flower, the one whose blooming Su Yi throws her party to celebrate, is referred to by its Chinese name, tan hua (曇花). It gives rise to a Chinese chengyu (or expression), 曇花一現, tan hua yi xian, the equivalent of the English "flash in the pan", used the same way—to describe someone whose apparent incredible success is or will be short-lived and likely the result of luck. In other words, exactly how Rachel is seen by many of the Singaporean women at the party.
  • Foil: Michael's purpose for existing in the film is to contrast how different he and Rachel react as a lower-class person dating the richest of the rich. While Michael lets it break him and causes him to be insecure and miserable, Rachel faces it head on and becomes stronger for it and truly proves her value, and this is with the added baggage of being American to boot.
  • 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:
    • Rachel's monologue about TA Curtis playing not to win, but to avoid losing, is of course relevant to Eleanor. Eleanor's just so afraid of losing that her behavior means that there are no real winners among them in the end; if she succeeds in driving Rachel away, Nick will still resent her forever.
    • 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.
  • Funny Background Event: As Nick and Colin flee the bachelor party, one of the models is Recoiled Across the Room by an RPG.
  • Fun Personified: Costume designer Mary E. Vogt explained her choices for how the characters dressed. Nouveau riche such as the Gohs and Araminta Lee dress flashy and are all about having fun and going out for a good time, in contrast to the old money who favour classical designs and quieter hobbies.
  • Generational Trauma: Rachel faces conflict from Eleanor Young, her fiancé Nick's influential and overbearing mother, who refuses to accept her because she's too "American" and unfit to be part of the prestigious family. It's later revealed that Eleanor faced her own criticisms from her mother-in-law Shang Su Yi who also didn't approve of her because of her own background.
  • Genre Throwback: To the romantic comedies that were popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 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.note 
  • Gold Digger:
    • Rachel is believed to be this by Nick’s mother and friends, and this is a major source of friction in the movie. Even discussed, as she compares herself to a soap opera villain out to steal his fortune.
    • 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.
  • Heirloom Engagement Ring: Eleanor's emerald ring was purchased by her husband after his mother, who didn't approve of Eleanor, refused to let him have the family's heirloom ring. The second time Nick proposes to Rachel it's with Eleanor's emerald ring, signifying that she's changed her mind and is accepting Rachel into the family.
  • Held Gaze: During the wedding ceremony, Nick and Rachel frequently exchanged these looks.
  • 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 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 Let You Win: Rachel challenges Eleanor to a game of Mahjong, invoking this and Don't Create a Martyr. If Nick chooses Rachel, he loses his family, and if he chooses his family, he will forever resent them for making him lose Rachel. So Rachel voluntarily breaks it off with Nick while reminding Eleanor that this 'lowly commoner' is the one who is the ultimate reason for her family's happiness in the future. The imagery is also displayed in the game they play (see Genius Bonus); Rachel's hand wins, but she voluntarily folds, thus losing the game.
  • 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.
  • Ivy League for Everyone:
    • Played with. Nick's parents and their close friends are mentioned to have gone to Cambridge, and Astrid was top of her class at Oxford. While this is used to primp the family's pedigrees, it's also an indicator of their extravagant wealth.
    • Rachel is specifically a professor at NYU.
  • Jerk Ass Has A Point: During the Bachelor party, Eddie says Rachel is just lucky to be with a guy like Nick and Nick is deluding himself for thinking that they are in an equal relationship. He is crass about it but points out that his family gave him a ton of grief for marrying Fiona, whose family is immensely rich, and that Colin's dad only is paying millions for his wedding to Araminta because her family owns a billion-dollar resort chain, not because he particularly cares if they love each other. For the families of these rich kids, marrying wealth to wealth and into good families is more important than individual happiness. As we later see, the members of high society do for the most part reject Rachel because of her middle-class American background.
  • 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.
    • It's also implied that once she sees Kerry for herself, Eleanor feels remorseful for using Kerry's past for her own machinations.
  • Lecture as Exposition: Rachel's first scene playing heads-up poker against the T.A. Curtis has her win and demonstrate the risk-averse nature of most humans through a successful bluff. It returns back near the climax when Rachel loses to Eleanor in the mahjong game while seemingly implying that the story-long machinations to separate Nick from Rachel had worked...until Rachel reveals she let Eleanor win, both the mahjong match and in the sense that Eleanor got to keep her son's happiness by Rachel turning down his marriage proposal, unafraid of losing Nick in order to protect his happiness and relationship with his family.
    Rachel: Our brains so hate the idea of losing something that's valuable to us that we abandon all rational thought, and we make some really poor decisions. So, Curtis wasn't playing to win. He was playing not to lose.
  • 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.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: A variant where the character learns this from a third party. Rachel learns from Su Yi that her father did not, as her mother had long told her, die before she was born, but is in fact alive in China.
  • Make-Out Kids: Alistair and Kitty are prone to making out exaggeratedly and inappropriately.
  • Makeover Fairy: The team of stylists who Oliver brings in to dress Rachel for the wedding.
  • Matriarchy: Upper-class Singaporean society certainly seems to be this from the film: the most venerated and respected character is Su Yi, the Young family matriarch, rarely addressed by her actual name, and women, from Eleanor to Araminta's bachelorettes, exercise all the real power over Rachel that makes her miserable near the end. The Young patriarch, by contrast, is only mentioned a few times and never seen, the most significant male actor within the Young family is flamboyantly gay, and the other men are largely depicted as physically attractive catches for the women to validate their social status by winning. Of course, almost any movie that takes place largely during the runup to a wedding and has a female protagonist is going to seem this way.
  • Meet the In-Laws: Rachel flies from America to Singapore to meet her boyfriend's family for the first time.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The movie's prologue is set in 1995 with Nick and his cousin Astrid as kids.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mr. Fanservice: There are many shots of good-looking men without shirts. There is even a shot of Michael coming out of the shower.
  • 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.
    • Invoked when Amanda tells Rachel that she got the job as the Youngs' general counsel because she grew up around them.
  • News Travels Fast: An influencer spots billionaire heir Nick Young at a restaurant with his girlfriend and snaps a photo. It spreads like wildfire in the next few minutes and goes viral in Singapore. Nick's mother hears about it and calls him before Nick and Rachel have even finished eating.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Despite most of the cast being Singaporean, there's almost no Singaporean English in the film . Most of the characters speak with either British or American accents, justified sometimes by their educations.
    • Awkwafina and Ken Jeong both maintain their American accents despite playing 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.note 
  • Not So Above It All: After Eleanor and Nick's Aunties snub Rachel at the wedding and turn to walk off, one of the Aunts quickly and quietly turns to Rachel and compliments her on her outfit before turning her back to her again and running off.
  • 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: Implied Trope with the Gohs, who are well-off but not to the extent of massively wealthy old-money Youngs, Chengs, and their ilk. They live in a renovated mansion and are fairly tacky, but much kinder than them.
  • 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: Colin and Nick somehow manage to steal a helicopter and fly it to a private part of the island when they have enough of the bachelor party.
  • Outside/Inside Slur: Nick's posh Asian family and social circle disapproves of Rachel not only for being middle-class, but also for being American — they don't think she shares their values. As Eleanor puts it, she's not kaki langnote . And as Peik Lin succinctly puts it, a "yellow on the outside and white on the inside" banana.
  • 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.
  • Pet's Homage Name: Astor, Vanderbilt, and Rockefeller are the names of the Nouveau Riche Gohs' dogs.
  • Plastic Bitch: One of the rich Asian socialites at Araminta's bachelorette disses the middle-class Rachel's appearance, scoffing that she's probably never heard of plastic surgery.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The cold open involves the Young family being turned away from a classy British hotel, despite having reservations, for the color of their skin.
    "I'm sure you and your family can find other accommodation. May I suggest you explore Chinatown?"
  • Poor Communication Kills: Part of the conflict is because Nick didn't prepare Rachel at all for the classist vultures that comprise his family.
  • Product Placement: Among all the high-end fashion labels that come up during the movie, Bottega Veneta gets a special mention from Oliver, since actor Nico Santos used to work for them. Several female characters are outfitted in the creations of Singaporean labels Thomas Wee, Ong Shunmugam, and Frederick Lee Couture.
  • Queer Colors: Oliver, a campy member of a stuffy Old Money family, confirms to Rachel that he is gay by saying he's the "rainbow sheep" of the clan.
  • 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.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Astrid gives an EPIC one to Michael at the end of the film; she decides to leave with her son and tells him that he'll see his dad when he wants to — when he asks where she'll go, she responds that she owns 14 apartment buildings.
    Michael: You know, it's not just my fault that things didn't work out.
    Astrid: You're right. I shouldn't have kept things from you. Hidden my shoes, turned down jobs, charity work, worrying that it might make you feel lesser than. But let's be clear: the problem with our marriage isn't my family's money. It's that you're a coward. You gave up on us. But I've just realised — it's not my job to make you feel like a man. I can't make you something you're not.
  • Reaction Shot: When Peik Lin tells the Gohs that her boyfriend's name is Nick Young, the camera cuts to each member of the family reacting to the news.
  • Rejected Marriage Proposal: Rachel refuses Nick's proposal despite being in love with him because his mother Eleanor does not approve of Rachel and she doesn't want Nick to have to choose between her and his family. However, she does make a point of telling Eleanor that when Nick finally marries a woman Eleanor approves of, it will because of the sacrifice Rachel – someone she looks down upon – made. This causes Eleanor to re-evaluate her opinion of Rachel; Nick ends up Racing For Your Love to propose to Rachel again, this time with Eleanor's ring, revealing she has now given the marriage her blessing. Rachel accepts the second proposal.
  • Rejecting the Inheritance: Nick gets fed up with his meddling mother and grandmother after they drive his fiancée away and threatens to renounce the family fortune unless they back off.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Eleanor's emerald Enormous Engagement Ring is not the Young family ring but rather one commissioned by Nick's father. He Married For Love... against the wishes of his family, who judged Eleanor as The Unfavorite. So when Eleanor sends Nick to propose with that exact ring, she signals, very explicitly, that Rachel is ready to follow Eleanor's footsteps.
  • Running Gag: Eddie Cheng taking a stiff, stone-faced, unnatural pose every time he's photographed because he thinks it's his "optimal angle."
    • Rachel might be a person looked down on by most of Singapore high society, but they all love the way she looks at these parties (thanks to some help from Peik Lin and Oliver).
  • 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 to 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.
    • Oliver explains that he procures whatever the Young family wants, from golden koi fish to a rare Cambodian gong. When Rachel asks why anyone would buy the latter, Oliver replies "Because they can."
  • The Scrounger: Oliver, despite being in his words one of the "poorer relations" and the "Rainbow Sheep" is still accepted and fairly close to the rest of his family mainly because he found a niche as this. Whatever anyone in his family wants, he's able to acquire it for them, including a rare Cambodian gong.
  • 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.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • In The Stinger, Astrid encounters an Old Flame, played by (relatively) big-name star Harry Shum Jr. — who appears solely in this one 3-second shot and has no lines.
    • If the films follow the plot of the novels (and the names of the sequels imply they will), Rachel's Disappeared Dad is going to be a big plot point going forward. Specifically, her biological father is the reason the second installment is named China Rich Girlfriend.
  • Setting Update: Downplayed. While the book takes place in 2010, the movie takes place in then-present day 2018.
  • 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.
  • Slave to PR: Reputation is very important to the Singaporean old money families, and they will sabotage relationships in order to preserve the family's image.
  • 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 and her general ditzy tendencies, she's still a cheerful, generous girl who openly befriends Rachel and never objects to 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:
  • 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.
  • Sudden Soundtrack Stop: During the wedding scene, the film is momentarily completely silent when Araminta steps onto the fairy-lit, flooded, flower-covered aisle in her beautiful wedding dress, emphasizing how stunning and sweet the set-up is.
  • 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 Eleanor to have second thoughts about Asian Americans being selfish, and Eleanor 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.
    • Zigzagged with Michael. Astrid initially treats him with baby gloves and he's the one to storm off after getting the last word in after revealing his somewhat sympathetic motives. But at the end of the movie, Astrid calls him out and tells him in no uncertain terms that his motives are bullshit and he's just an insecure coward looking for excuses.
  • 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.
  • Tamer and Chaster: The movie version of Colin's bachelor party, which takes place on a container ship, consists of drinking, loud music, video games, and hordes of bikini-clad women. The book version takes place in Macau and includes cocaine, prostitutes, high-stakes gambling, and a violent dogfight.
  • That Came Out Wrong: When Rachel is telling Nick about the dead gutted fish left in her hotel room his response is "Is that all that happened?" Which made it sound like he didn't think it was a big deal and earned a Death Glare from Rachel before he backpedaled and clarified what he meant.
  • Theme Naming: The Goh dogs are named Astor, Vanderbilt and Rockefeller, for rich American business families.
  • Title Drop: Peik Lin says that Nick's family isn't just rich, they're "crazy rich."
  • Too Unhappy to Be Hungry: Following her breakup, Rachel is very strongly implied to be this.
  • Translated Cover Version: Besides "Material Girl" and "Money (That's What I Want)," we have:
    • Louis Jordan's "I Want You To Be My Baby," twice — the classic 50s cover by Grace Chang, and a second, diegetic, version during the wedding reception, performed by Jasmine Chen.
    • "Yellow" by Coldplay, performed by Katherine Ho over the climax and denouement.
  • 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. Specifically Cal State Fullerton.
  • 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.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: Lampshaded by Nick when he compares the current circumstances — fighting through a crowded commercial airliner — to the proposal he'd always planned in his head.
  • Wham Shot: On the plane, Nick pops open the ring box to propose and his mother's ring is inside, which means Eleanor has changed her mind and approves.


Video Example(s):


Alistair and Kitty

Kitty gets acting jobs despite being terrible because her boyfriend bankrolls movies.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / Nepotism

Media sources: