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Crazy Rich Asians

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Lin ZhaoDavison
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Crazy Rich Asians

         Crazy Rich Asians is a romantic comedy film produced by Hollywood based on Kevin Kwan’s best selling book of the same title.  This is the first film in 25 years that all cast members are Asian-Americans.  The director of the film is Jon Chu. The film centers on a love story between Rachel and Nick, two American college professors who travel to Singapore to attend Nick’s friend’s wedding. The drama starts with Rachel meeting Nick’s Young family in Singapore for the first time.

        As the story unfolds, we see the themes of love, friendship, family, individual freedom, class and money and a series of clashes of cultures and values, such as tradition vs individual freedom, incredibly wealthy class vs prudent working class, native vs foreign.  As Rachel and Nick pursue their freedom of love, they face disapproval of Nick’s mother, Eleanor and rejection from Nick’s family.  Nick’s controlling mother wants Nick to take over the family empire and put the family first as a duty of a son of an Asian family. She thinks Nick should sacrifice his love for the family as she sacrificed her own desires for the family.  Nick was torn between the two women but finally chooses  love - Rachel. Eleanor disproves the marriage also because she thinks Rachel is not a match for Nick because she cannot be a dutiful wife and she does not belong to the aristocratic Young family for her “lower” social status.  She has hires a personal investigator and finds that Rachel’s single mother was an immigrant to America and is a “nobody” possessing nothing in her opinion.  The contrasting scenes of the dazzlingly extravagant welcome home party in Singapore and the apartment of Ms. Chu, Rache’s mother illustrate the conflicts between the wealthy and working class families.  Eleanor says to Rachel openly, “You will never be good enough.”  Not only Rachel is rejected by Nick’s mother and family, but she is also discriminated for her foreigner background because she grows up in America even thought she is of Asian race.  Peik Lin, her college friend in New York, describes her as white inside and yellow outside.  She is an “Asian” but does not fit in to the native Asian family in Singapore. Singaporeans view her as a foreigner.  She is ridiculed by Nick’s family friends. One of the girls leaves a gutted dead fish on her bed at a party and says, “Catch this, you goldigging b*tch.” Nevertheless, love triumphs in the end.  You have to fight for your freedom and true love.

        This film is a good cultural study material for language and social studies.  I would use this film to teach languages around the themes of love, friendship, family, individual freedom, class and money.  Students can do comparison between cultures and values in Asia and America and write about their views on the issues revealed in the film.  Students may also conduct research on the family traditions in Asian countries and write an essay on selected topics.  Additionally, they can give a group presentation on their research and result.  Some of the topics for discussions may be:


  • What are the similarities and differences between the characters? (choose two)
  • American culture is seen as prioritizing ambition, happiness, and the pursue of  love while the Asian culture is shown as family first and a son is expected to sacrifice himself for the family.  What are your view of each philosophy? Do you agree or not and why?
  • What do the contrasting scenes of luxury Young family party and Rachel’s working class family reveal about the class system in the Asian society? What can you do to bridge the gap of inequality in your community?
  • What’s your feedback on Peik Lin’s remark to Rachel: “You are white inside and yellow outside.” and Rachel’s response, “I am so Chinese; I grew up to be an economics professor with a lactose intolerance.”  What racial or cultural conflicts do this conversation reveal?
  • Crazy Rich Asians is the first Hollywood film that has all Asian-American cast in the past 25 years.  Why does it matter?  Why does the representation matter in Hollywood?
Linda Gonzales Diaz
Topic replies: 33
Topic Posts: 3
Crazy Rich Asians

I remember being super excited about this movie when it first was released in theaters. My daughter and I watched it and loved it. 

I love the idea of using such an entertaining movie to teach students. I think this would be most suited to high school students, probably upperclassmen even. My 6th graders would be too busy oohing at the kissing scenes and ogling the girls in bikinis to even pay attention to the story. They would probably also be wildly distracted by the enormous amount of wealth displayed throughout the movie. 

Nonetheless, the questions you pose to accompany this film are thought provoking. Students will be engaged in critical thinking and dialogues with both the teacher and classmates. These questions are sure to lead to other questions creating an ever expanding information web for them to explore. Great choice in film and in questioning.

Christine Moguel
Topic replies: 61
Topic Posts: 9
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Family comes first

I was equally excited to watch this movie and possibly show it to my adult students with special needs.  They love a good story and it is contemporary enough to make connections with what is happening in this time and era of their lives.  Its interesting for my students to ponder the idea of family and what expectations on family closeness their particular families adopt.  As a cultural study I think this film is relevant to our students and a lesson on comparing native vs. imigrant parallel cultures is also a great idea for our students to dive into.  Onwards!

Jimmy Martinez
Topic replies: 32
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Jimmy Martinez's picture
Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians deals with many cultural differences between Chinese and Chinese-Americans. It is based on the best-selling book by Kevin Kwan and it really shares the polarity between "Chinese-born" and their "Chinese-American" counterparts. Rachel (Constance Wu) plays an economic professor that goes to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) and begins the roller coaster of meeting his family. In Singapore she realizes that he comes from money and the dynamic of their relationship changes immediately. This movie was fantastic (I've watched it about 3 times now) and it really does a great job of showing the polarity between the Chinese-American and Chinese cultures. The expectations that Nick Young's family has for him is to take over the family business and his mother plays a very believable villain as she tries to tear them apart. I would use this film to show the differences in these cultures and to show these cultures and their views towards each other. 

Tiffany Chang
Topic replies: 31
Topic Posts: 3
Crazy Rich Asians

I absolutely loved this movie, and the best part was watching it with my family including my grandma. We purposely sat my mom on one end and my grandma on the other of our row in the movie theater as she is my grandma's daughter-in-law. The family dynamics and matriarch respect painted a very accurate picture, especially for our family. My siblings and I knew the exact scene where our mother and grandmother would react differently. In one scene, the family are making dumplings. The grandmother criticized Michelle Yeoh's character for making ugly dumplings. My grandmother laughed and said, "Wow! She's so good," while my mom's reaction was, "Story of my life." 

This film is a great cultural study although I would not show this to my students as I teach 5th graders. I do teach in a district which is predominantly Chinese so I might ask my students if they could describe how their family dynamics work. Showing some clips could help them compare if certain dynamics are similar. 

Marcos Rico
Topic replies: 87
Topic Posts: 10
Crazy Rich Asians

Thank you for the movie review. It is kind of the theme for this summer week long seminar :) Sounds like an interesting movie to watch. I was looking for it on Netflix, but they do not have it. Oddly enough is cheaper to buy an actual DVD of the movie from Best Buy than to stream it from Amazon of YouTube. I just ordered a copy of the dvd (ready for pick up at my local store in an hour.) I am sure that my wife will not mind watching Crazy Rich Asians with me.

Amy Chen
Topic replies: 51
Topic Posts: 7
Crazy Rich Asians

I just recently watched this movie for the second time. Although it follows a romantic comedy structure, the fact that it is an all Asian cast as well as Asian directing staff makes the movie truly special. It has been almost 20 years since Joy Luck Club (another all Asian cast movie) premiered on screens nationwide. Crazy Rich Asians highlights Asian culture so beautifully, especially the street food scene and the Mah Jong parlor in Singapore. 

Diana Corey
Topic replies: 30
Topic Posts: 4
Crazy Rich Asians

This is a great movie, and the only thing holding me back from wanting to show it in class is that it is in English! Perhaps it would be a good pick for Chinese Club instead, where there is less of a language objective and more of a cultural immersion objective. I could also show clips showing relationship dynamics and then discuss them in Chinese, and there are a few scenes where the characters speak a little Chinese. I can think of many points in my curriculum where something from this movie would be useful to show and discuss.