Musings on Crazy Rich Asians Movie/Book

There has been such a hype about a movie/book called “Crazy Rich Asians” that I can’t help but noticing.

This is one of the rare Hollywood movies with all Asian actors, something only The Joy Luck Club movie had 25 years ago.

The movie and the book is about, well you guess it, wealthy people in Asia.

More specifically, the plot is about a super wealthy Singaporean-born professor, Nick, who teaches History at NYU and is in love with an NYU Economics professor named Rachel.

Nick keeps a low-profile about his family’s real estate fortune (in the billions of dollars) until he takes Rachel to Singapore where she is shocked to see Nick’s family’s unimaginable wealth.

That’s also when the two start facing Nick’s mom’s disapproval of their relationship due to Rachel’s humble background.

To me, this sounds like a modern day fair tale where an innocent girl falls in love with a handsome prince who chooses to hide his background in order to find true love.

This is the story (almost) every young girl hopes will happen in their lives.

The movie has just been released and topped the box office in its first week.

I was SUPER excited when the trailer came out and couldn’t wait until August 15th (opening night) to see the movie.

I even hoped that Baby F2 would arrive after that date so that I could still go see the movie.

However, after a couple of months, my interest started to wane and is no match for my desire to save money. Mr. FAF is also not so interested. Basically, I will wait until the movie comes out on Netflix to watch it. I’m in no hurry.

I have not read the book.ย But based on the plot on Wikipedia (I know!) and the interviews with the author, Kevin Kwan, these are some of my thoughts on the story:

1. If you are from a wealthy family in Asia, your parents expect you to marry someone from an equally affluent family.

The single most important reason why Nick’s mom disapproves of his girlfriend, Rachel, is because she comes from a humble background. Rachel’s mom raised her as a single mom and faced many financial hardships along the way.

Despite his mom and grandma’s disapproval of Rachel, Nick chooses to forgo his inheritance to be with her. His grandma also disowned him for that decision.

In the story, Nick and Rachel are not the only couple who face disapproval due to the difference in their social statuses. Nick’s female cousin also had to break off her engagement to aย tech billionaire because he doesn’t come from a family of long-standing affluence like hers.

This is to show that if you are born into a wealthy family and rely on your parents for inheritance or money, your marriage will also be determined or heavily affected by them.

Once you choose to pursue your love despite your family’s disapproval, you will also lose the good fortune that was supposed to belong to you.

Being with your true love does come at a high cost when your parents are rich and don’t approve of your relationship.

Related: When You Are Ashamed Of Being Poor

2. Birds of a feather flock together.

In the book, all of Nick’s family members are extremely wealthy and well connected with other powerful and rich people not only in Singapore but also in other countries in Asia and Europe.

His mom’s best friend is the wife of a billionaire. Even Nick’s best friend and ex-girlfriend come from two of the richest families in the world.

Nick’s family socializes with people of the upper echelons who speak and breathe power and money. His cousins also date people from other wealthy families.

Overall, one observation I got from the story is that rich people hang out with each other. And I think it’s totally understandable.

People tend to associate with those who are similar to them. They tend to work in similar fields, do business together, attend the same high-profile events, and get introduced to each other through their also wealthy mutual friends.

It’s a close circle that the poor and the middle class find hard or even impossible to enter. And if you have wealthy parents, chances are you will also be wealthy and well connected like them.

Related: What A Luxurious Life Looks Like To Us

3. The story keeps me wondering what it’s like to be born into a super wealthy family.

I was born into a poor family, so I don’t need to wonder what being poor is like. I’ve been generally content with my life and don’t think much about being super rich and such.

But Crazy Rich Asians makes me wonder what my life would have been like if my parents were also real estate moguls like Nick’s.

I might face the same opposition to my marriage to Mr. FAF like Nick does. But it’d be nice to know what it’s like to grow up getting the best things anyone can only wish for (i.e. mansions, private pools, expensive food, first-class flights everywhere).

Related: My 12 Frugal Fantasies

4. Mr. FAF and I are determined to have our children grow up in a rich family.

Mr. FAF and I come from a humbling background, so it’s out of the question for us to grow up rich. It’s just too late and impossible.

We know that love is more important, but holding love constant, it doesn’t hurt to have our kids growing up in a financially secure family.

We would like for our kids to have what we desire but can’t have. It means that Mr. FAF and I need to work hard to build our careers and a more robust financial future for us and our children.

My hope is that our kids won’t have to be ashamed of growing up poor or being looked down on by their friends and adults for their parents’ income and jobs.

Related: Our 7 Expectations For Our Son

Conclusion

At the end of the story, true love still triumphs money. Nick listens to his heart rather than being blinded by the enormous inheritance from his family. He chooses Rachel, his girlfriend, over money.

Whether this decision is laudable remains somewhat debatable. After all, Nick leaves behind not only the money but also a mother and a grandma who raised him and love him unconditionally.

Is Nick too selfish to choose a girl he’s known for only a couple of years over his family? I’m not sure what the answer is. But the ending is definitely something many of us approve of. No amount of money can buy true love.

Nick would look so materialistic and shallow to dump Rachel at his mom’s request in the hope of inheriting his family’s fortune.

This is the fairy tale kind of ending that would melt any girl’s heart, mine included.

The moral of the story, I think, is that your life wouldn’t have much meaning if all you have is money and no one to love you and take care of you for the rest of your life.

And it’s not a bad idea to keep a low-profile about your wealth (stealth wealth) in order to find people who care about you and not your money.

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15 thoughts on “Musings on Crazy Rich Asians Movie/Book”

  • This movie was such an incredibly pleasant surprise! Unlike you, I actually had no previous exposure to the film and paid no attention to the marketing or promo leading up to the film’s release. My husband and I actually decided on a whim to go see it the Friday it came out after seeing Constance Wu in an interview. I was blown away! The film not only touches on the topic of wealth/love as you discuss but it also touches on multiple experiences of the cultural diaspora of growing up in an Asian home; sensitive topics such as: Asian daughters and their relationships with mothers, community gossip, family legacies, the fandom to please your parents’ social crowd, respect of elders, the submissive role of Asian women when dealing with infidelity, etc. It was incredibly powerful! I hope you see it and are as inspired as I was <3

  • The subtle cultural references are remarkable and relateable for all Asian Americans. Before seeing it I thought it was just some unrealistic princess love story wrapped in conspicuous spending but so so so much more with many layers and deep cultural meaning.
    Highly recommended!! I’ll watch it again!

  • Mrs. RB40 went to see the movie last week. She liked it, but didn’t tell me much about it. I’ll wait until it comes out on DVD. I enjoyed the books. No big surprise really. Of course, rich families want their kids to marry another rich family to build connection and live a comfortable life. I’m looking forward to watching it at home. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I haven’t read or watched it because it reminds me of a standard Twilight-ish drama but with Asians in it. I think it is sad though that it’s been 25 years since Asian Americans were highlighted on the movie screen this much . Like what the heck…we need more Asian influences in Hollywood.

  • “After all, Nick leaves behind not only the money but also a mother and a grandma who raised him and love him unconditionally.”

    If Nick’s mother and grandmother disowned him for who he loves that is conditional love, where he must do as they wish to receive their love. Unconditional love would be if they were to love him and support him regardless of who he loves.

  • I think Better Luck Tomorrow, 2002 is actually a better representation of Asian-American reality. (well, generally minus most of the crime). Not sure what to totally think about it, AsAm still have the largest disparity of income and social class despite the stereotypes.

    Also, Searching with John Cho is another AsAm film that’s out. Asians on the big screen is getting there, albeit slowly.

    Birds flocking I agree. Rich people still have concerns and problems despite what the public thinks. It’s also a way to guard against vampires and live without the guilt of being rich.

    Money isn’t bad, coveting money is what brings about your downfall.

  • I am going to see it tomorrow – with friends who are South East Asian, and Canadian. I myself am Trinidadian and Canadian, my mom’s family is from China. I joked with her, that this would have been her family if they had evenly distributed wealth, or really spoiled our generation. I am super excited about it! I am so glad we’re seeing more representation on screen.

  • My wife and I really want to watch it. But it’s so hard to get our parents to baby sit our daughter long enough for us to see it. Our baby is exclusively breast feeding so it’s hard to leave her for more than 2 hours.

    That said, I have heard so many great things about the movie. Almost everybody I talked to had rave reviews about it. Non-Asians and Asian Americans alike seem to really enjoy the movie based on what I hear. My sisters have seen in three times!

    I have met the director once in an event at Los Angeles and he seems like a great guy who is ambitiously driven and generously kind at the same time. I have a lot of respect for him since he once of his missions is to improve the exposure of Asian Americans in Hollywood.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  • We took our family to watch the movie (none has read the book). Our son surprisingly really wanted to see it because of the makeup of the cast – my daughter wasn’t thrilled to go but seemed to enjoy it. It was fun and a bit silly (husband’s words).

    Thinking the book is different from the movie because your summary in Pt. 1 is a bit different from what occurred in the movie. In the movie, lack of money seemed an issue, but not as much as Rachel being American.

    • In the book, things resolve between Nick and Rachel in the first book, however not with his mom until I believe book two. I cannot wait to see it, my friends weren’t able to go this week so I am waiting one more week and then just going!!!

  • I love reading your blog to see the cultural similarities to us as we’re Asians in Singapore (home ground!) I read the first book and I’ve yet to watch the movie, but I truly do wonder – how does being rich feel like? We have some affluent friends but they are very down to earth that you wouldn’t guess how rich they are. One thing we do notice is that by being rich, your circle of friends @ network is more influential and even more importantly, have a advocacy mindset vs. settling for anything that comes by.

  • Saw the movie with my wife last weekend (Sunday) and we both rated it as a B+. We just visited Singapore last year, and it was nice to see those familiar places in the movie. It was a classic rich and poor type love story with a twist. Love the movie, and I highly recommend it.

  • I watched the movie with my wife in theaters at a discounted viewing ($5 tickets at AMC on Tuesday evenings!). We’ve gone to a couple movies now on this deal and moved date night from the weekend to the week. An added treat for going to the movies now has been the addition of fully reclining chairs. I don’t know if most theaters have adopted this practice or just the theaters by us. Regardless, thought I’d offer a tip for anyone looking to see a movie in theaters on a budget.

    Regarding the movie, I think your two first points are very in-line with what academics call “assortative mating” where people tend to marry spouses with similar levels of education and affluence. Some academics have highlighted this effect and noted its harmful exacerbation of income inequality. In an Economist article from last year, they state that in America, Britain, Denmark, Germany and Norway, studies have found that household income would be more evenly spread if couples were less keen to marry similar mates.

    In the movie, it is clear Rachel comes from humble beginnings but through talent, virtue and hard work, she ascended to a position of great respect. Having people work to this status is a blessing for the nation whereas an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth would slowly strangle it. Despite the mother’s wishes, I was very relieved with the movie’s conclusion where, as you note, true love vanquished money.

  • I am also super excited about this movie! However, I DO feel like this is the plot of like every single K-Drama and Chinese modern drama I have ever watched. Super normal girl falls in love with hot guy — but wait! He is not only handsome, he’s actually also super rich. I mean, I can list dozens of shows that have this exact same storyline, right down to the rich mom who tries to break the happy couple apart. I am very happy that the rest of the US is getting the exposure in the mainstream now…and I will watch it when it comes out on Netflix ๐Ÿ™‚

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