Crazy Rich Asians: Calm, collected decision making

Crazy Rich Asians topped the box office for the second weekend in a row and has a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film adaptation of the book by the same name is creating quite the buzz for several reasons including featuring a mostly Asian cast and putting Rom-Coms back on top. 

Although the book provides a more satirical take on the high brow society of Singapore, the movie, while being hysterical, asks the question of how to blend tradition/family with finding individual happiness. 

Spoilers below:

There are two standout scenes in Crazy Rich Asians with takeaways that we can apply to our own lives. 

The family botox dumpling scene: While I enjoyed Oliver’s dumpling folding instructions (insert botox, pinch cheeks, ect.), the underlying message of the scene is more serious. In this scene we learn that Eleanor, Nick’s mother, finished law school but never pursued her career as she was responsible for raising a family and managing the household. 

The takeaway: This scene raises the important question of how one pursues their own passions while also fulfilling family responsibilities and obligations. Eleanor states quite clearly that her husband is successful because she was there standing beside him. While she might not have had a career outside the home, she played an equal role in building the family empire. What I like about this scene is that Eleanor is a strong woman who knows her value and what she has brought to the table. Eleanor continues by contrasting her own family- and tradition-centered attitude with Americans’ constant pursuit of individual happiness. However, these two values do not have to be in opposition to each other. In fact, they often are complementary. The challenge becomes how to align our pursuits for personal and familiar happiness, and, thereby, find peace. The second scene suggests how Rachel understands this idea.

The infamous Mahjong battle to the death scene: In this scene Rachel is able to tout her own family upbringing while also standing up for herself. 

The takeaway: What stands out in this scene is how Rachel rises above the drama of the situation. She can see clearly that, if she were to accept Nick’s proposal without his family’s support, he would never be happy because there would always be something missing for him. This, in turn, would cause problems in their own relationship. In this scene Rachel, who is a professor of game theory, is able to think rationally, unlike most of us who get caught up in the drama and, in the midst of intense emotions, act irrationally. For those of us who are not professors of game theory, it is important to take a step back and take a deep breath before making life-altering decisions.

What did you think of the changes from book to movie? I enjoyed the added theme of the emerald ring and what it represents to the characters. 

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