How Different is "Crazy Rich Asians" from the Book?

If you haven’t heard about the movie Crazy Rich Asians, you must be living under a rock. Crazy Rich Asians stars Constance Wu (Fresh Off The Boat), Awkwafina (Girl Code and Ocean’s 8), Henry Golding, and an all star, all-Asian cast. The last movie to have an all-Asian cast was The Joy Luck Club, which happened 25 years ago. This romantic comedy tells the story of an Asian couple, Rachel (Wu) and Nick (Golding), visiting Nick’s family in Singapore, who happens to be incredibly, crazy rich. Want to hear something else shocking about this movie? It was a book first.

Crazy Rich Asians  is based off the book of the same name by Kevin Kwan (who is Singaporean-American), which was published in June 2013. Once I caught wind of the trailer for CRA, I knew I wanted to read the book first. Once finishing the book, I started to wonder how they were going to fit a 554 page book into two hours, and what plot points are they going to take out and add. For those who've already seen CRA, here is a quick crash-course on how similar/different CRA’s book and movie are.


Astrid’s storyline was simpler

Book: Astrid’s storyline dealt with her finding out her husband was having an affair. In the book, it goes in deeper as Astrid and her ex-boyfriend Charlie Wu even tracks down Michael’s mistress' apartment in Hong Kong to confront them there. We merely find out that Michael made the whole thing up just to find a reason to end Astrid and his marriage. We are left with Astrid having closure and ready to start her new life.

Movie: In the movie, we do not get to see Astrid and Charlie confronting Michael about his affair. We don’t even get to be introduced to Charlie until the end. (He was the guy that Astrid gazed at in the ending credits). But that does make me wonder if they left it out due to hinting at a sequel?

Rachel and Eleanor’s showdown

Book: In the book, Rachel and Eleanor did not have many conversations. Most of their tension went undiscussed in the book. After Eleanor investigated Rachel’s family past and confronts her, Rachel never speaks to her again.

Movie: In the movie, Rachel and Eleanor have plenty of scenes together, where Eleanor gets to speak her mind more than once, telling Rachel she’s never going to be good enough for Nick. After Eleanor reveals information about Rachel’s family and Rachel turning down Nick’s proposal, Rachel invites Eleanor to a game of mahjong. During this showdown, Rachel tells Eleanor about what she has learned about herself and Eleanor during this trip and how Eleanor's ways are going to push Nick even further away. It had appeared that Eleanor had won, but Rachel had also won too, showing Eleanor that Rachel isn’t afraid of her anymore.

Rachel’s mother coming to Singapore

Book: This plot point in the book was the most dramatic to me. In the book, Rachel and Peik Lin were about to board a plane heading towards China for Rachel to meet her dad. Nick stopped them and brought Rachel’s mom with him too, in order to explain to Rachel about their past.

Movie: In the movie, Rachel was staying at Peik Lin’s house where her mother, which Nick had flown in, had met her to tend to her daughter, letting this moment go from being less dramatic to more emotional.

The big rom-com moment

Movie: Crazy Rich Asians couldn’t be a rom-com without the classic big rom-com moment. Nick raced to the airport in order to stop Rachel from boarding the plane back to New York. He declares his love for her and proposes to her again, but this time with his mother’s ring, letting us know that Eleanor approves of Nick and Rachel’s relationship.

Book: We do not get this closure in the book, as this makes the reader want to move onto the next book of the series.

Overall, Jon M. Chu did an excellent job of hitting all the right plot points and deciding to keep Astrid’s subplot (which I believe is the most important and intriguing subplot of all the subplots in CRA). Chu executed each part and brought the story to life in ways my imagination couldn't. It was the Asian “Great Gatsby” I had imagined.