The Four Movies That Have Made Me Ugly Cry, Part 3: Crazy Rich Asians
Posted on December 13, 2020 Posted by Athena Scalzi 24 Comments
I didn’t think this movie would make me cry. I knew the first two on my list, The Fault in Our Stars and Coco, would make me cry, but I never expected this charming romantic comedy to be on this list.
I actually didn’t see this one in theaters, though I remember I had thought it looked pretty good. I ended up seeing Crazy Rich Asians because Miami University was showing it for free one Friday a few months after it came out, and my friends invited me along.
Also, this is your OFFICIAL SPOILER WARNING!
In my opinion, pretty much the entirety of Crazy Rich Asians is not cry-worthy. Like, there is practically nothing in this movie that would make one cry. That being said, it definitely does have a certain relatability to it, and targets some very specific “feels” within oneself throughout it.
That theme of, “you’ll never be good enough” and “you’re not one of us” really hits different. I think that feeling of “you don’t belong” is something that everyone has experienced at some point. That desire to fit in and not be looked down on is universal. So chances are you can relate to Rachel, even if the reasons you felt that way are different than hers.
To see her go through these trials and tribulations of trying to be accepted by her beloved’s family is disheartening. She’s not even like, trying to impress them or be something she’s not, she’s just trying to be liked for who she genuinely is as a nice and decent person, but it means nothing to them because she isn’t somebody. She’s not enough for Nick in the eyes of his family.
But it’s not just his family, it’s his friends, too (minus the nice ones that pick them up from the airport and get married). Like that scene where the girls leave the dead fish in Rachel’s bed with a message in lipstick on the windows! That’s some shit that would make any girl cringe and think of a time where mean girls did something similar at summer camp when they were like, twelve. Again, it’s just something relatable that makes you feel for the character. But, like I said, nothing really cry-worthy.
I’d say the only thing that’s like, possibly misty-eyed worthy is the wedding scene when Nick is standing by the altar and mouthing to Rachel that he loves her. Ugh, so sweet and cute. It’s gross how adorable it is. And what a beautiful wedding oh my gosh.
Of course, then it all comes crashing down after that, but still not tear-inducing!
So there I am, sitting with my friends, having a fine time, not crying at all, not a single tear in sight. Nick is about to re-propose to Rachel on the plane, which is cute and all and like, totally no big deal. But then he opens the box, and it’s his mother’s ring, and I lose my shit.
I literally double over in my seat and put my face into my hands because I had burst into tears. Like just started sobbing out of nowhere. My friends all looked at me with genuine concern and asked what happened, and if I was okay. All I could say was, “IT’S THE MOM’S RIIIIIING” and continue crying. Even when I think about it, I get all choked up.
I thought Nick was just going to re-propose with the same ring as before, and he would be like, “who cares what my family thinks?!” and it would just be the same scene, but on a plane, which I didn’t really get why they would do that? Or why Rachel would say yes the second time around? But then that reveal of that beautiful emerald ring, it killed me. Literally destroyed me. The ultimate sign of acceptance. She knew what that ring meant. It meant she was enough.
Isn’t that all anyone wants to be?
Have you seen this amazing movie? Did you love it? Wasn’t it the cutest?! Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and as always, have a great day!
I didn’t cry, but I loved the movie–I think I saw it more than once in theaters, even. I have a post for it on my wall. It was beautiful. I look forward to the sequel in a few years (if the fates allow) and even read through the trilogy after that, though it took months to get from the library. But the movie was definitely better. The nice friends! The mah-jongg scene! The ring! Nick being adorable! Rachel having self-respect! It’s great.
Loved it! Also the unexpected Keanu was a delightful bonus.
You may be confusing this movie with Always Be My Maybe.
Gah you are right. I enjoyed them both & obviously should not be making any important decisions today.
Old white guy here. I loved this movie and yeah I cried and laughed too. I agree with what you said. It had universal themes, an amazing cast (Awkwafina!), and was a refreshing change to watch.
The moment I burst into tears in that way was in “The King’s Speech” where Bertie returns home after David has abdicated, so he’s stuck being king now, and Princess Elizabeth whispers “curtsey!” and Princess Margaret drops a lovely little curtsey and calls her father “your Majesty.” Apparently other people tend to find that a laugh line, but I clocked the look on Colin Firth’s face and felt it with every fiber of my girl-and-her-dad being and just sobbed.
Fun note: that ring is Michelle Yeoh’s personal ring (actor of Nick’s mom, kick ass from Crouching Tiger). The ring production brought was not interesting/nice enough so she said: “I’ve got a better ring.”
I rarely tear up at media (daughter thinks I am stone faced), but I misted a bit when Rachel’s mom shows up in Singapore…
Wow. I totally didn’t expect this entry on the list.
I, of course, totally bawled my head off watching this, but I have a decent reason why, given I’ve been righting for Asian representation on the stage and on the screen for over four decades. And the fact that I first saw it in the company of fifty other Asian American actors and directors (on one of our social nights at an Asian American theatre conference I help organize) probably got the tear ducts ready and raring to go….
By the way, if you haven’t seen it, here’s the explanation behind the mahjohng scene between Rachel and Eleanor….one of the most brilliant, multiply layered scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie:
(my jaw just dropped on some of the throwaway references).
ZOMG YES. Exactly the same. That movie is built like a Swiss watch. I rarely re-watch movies, but I’ve seen that one at least six times and I’m just more impressed with the storytelling every time. (And the performances, and the production values, but wow.) It’s so awesome just to see a romantic comedy where the central relationship genuinely feels like it’s worth all the trouble, and there’s so many other bits of awesomeness about it.
I also have to second the inadvertent recommendation upthread for Always Be My Maybe, which we sometimes around here call “our local, low-rent Crazy Rich Asians” (I live in the city it’s filmed in, and some of my friends were in it). It’s got its own hilarious brilliance, and Keanu Reeves playing Asshole Keanu Reaves is totally worth the price of admission.
@gwangung — thank you for having that link! I read that article back when the movie first came out, and was going to recommend it here if nobody else had beaten me to it. From the perspective somebody who didn’t know any of that stuff before reading the article, the scene still works without it as a great confrontation between those two characters . . . but wow does it gain in depth with that aspect calculated in. I’m massively admiring of what the film was able to pull off, there.
And the ring moment is just such a beautifully concise bit of visual storytelling. Wouldn’t pack a tenth as much punch if they gave you the whole conversation between Nick and his mother — but the moment he opens that box, you know everything you need to know, all in a split second. It bowled me over.
@marie When we were.bawling, it was half out of “OH MY GOD THEY DIDN’T FUCK IT UP”, but that mahjong scene was simply exquisite (and even those of us who didn’t know the game caught some of the undercurrents).
Always Be My Maybe is another one of those gems that we all drunk in (I know one of the co-writers)(and my Bacon number is 1 or 2 to a lot of folks in the film). Made us hope that the moment isn’t another Joy Luck Club, and we won’t have to wait another generation for gains in representation on the screen and behind it.
I watched it during JoCo 2019 when I was too tired for more fun. It led to a great conversation with my 16yo. I teared up a bit for sure, but I’m more likely to get weepy thinking about being on the boat… ;-)
I too cried at the revelation of the ring. I didn’t cry anywhere else in the movie, but had several moments when I yelled at the screen. Fortunately it was a TV and not a theatre. It’s such a great cast and beautifully designed movie. I’ve also enjoyed it several times.
There is only one movie that has ever made me genuinely ugly cry: Grave of the Fireflies. That movie has this one motif, it’s main theme song, that is so unbelievably sweet and yet heart-breakingly sad (it’s even made with those ‘sparkly synthesizer’ effects that used to be everywhere in the 80s).
Keep in mind: This movie is unrelentingly depressing and tragic. It’s the kind of movie that won’t just make you cry, it’ll wreck you for the whole week. Hell, you might not even cry WHILE YOU ARE WATCHING THE MOVIE, but maybe a couple of days later, you might see a firefly, or maybe a frog….and you will break down and WEEP.
Is no one else angry at Nick for throwing Rachel into that situation with basically zero preparation? I mean, that’s not even ‘throwing you into the deep end and hoping you learn how to swim’, that’s ‘throwing you into the shark pool and hoping you learn how to swim and don’t get eaten by sharks, but I love you, honey!’ Grr! So much anger!
Yes girl! That scene had me trapped in my feelings too!
Loved it so much that I got all 3 books and couldn’t wait to read them! Then….
I found out that this amazing, climactic, life-changing, heart-changing part never happened!!!!!!!!!
This one never fails. The nightclub scene in Casablanca (well, there are lots of nightclub scenes, I mean the one where the orchestra plays the Marseillaise to drown out the Nazi officers’ marching song). I start to well up when Rick nods his approval to the bandleader, but what really gets me going are the female singer/guitarist joining in, followed by the girl who has been romancing German officers all night singing through her tears of what I assume to be a mixture of pride and shame.
Plus, making fun of Nazis never gets old. It’s important to remember that not only are Nazis evil, they are also utterly stupid, and deserve your ridicule as much as your contempt. They can deal with being shamed, because they are shameless; they hate being laughed at. They are still out there.
There’s also a scene where Astrid gave Michael a watch. Was less than 5 seconds. But it did highlight the class divide between them. For him it was a nice Rolex. For her it was something small to commemorate his CEO status. But it was a $700k+ Rolex. He probably didn’t know, and she didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
I’ll admit that I haven’t seen the film, but the book really, really didn’t work for me. It tried to play up the kookiness of the characters’ motivations and value systems, while simultaneously setting up conflicts predicated on the reader’s empathizing with those motivations and values. The characters don’t earn their redemptions, massive chunks of exposition are clumsily dropped in the middle of a good quarter of the scenes, and more often than not the author confuses designer name dropping with description. The thing was a best seller and spawned two sequels and this film, so obviously someone liked it. But not me.
This is one instance where I thought the movie outdid the book. The addition of the mah jong scene and the re-proposal on the plane were brilliant and made it work so much better.
It’s on TBS tonight, will be my 26th time seeing it. The mahjongg scene never fails to enthrall, and the ring moment:. Love when one frame reveals so much plot development!!!!
I adore this one, too, and I always tear up at that scene. It’s a brilliant adaption, although I wish wish wish it had been a miniseries with enough room for the other plotlines from the book, which is an amazing read.
The story of Kevin Kwan (the author) and why he wrote the book is fascinating–it’s heart is based on things he observed during his childhood. On top of that, the filmmakers went to enormous lengths to build a database of Asian actors/performers to source not just for Crazy Rich Asians, but for the industry in general, and they included a number of total unknowns in the cast.
I’m looking forward to the adaption of the remaining 2 books in the trilogy!
Yeah, that ending gets me too. Just reading your description of the ending made me tear up some. You pegged it perfectly that it was all about his mother’s ring with everything that means. I love that film. It has my favorite line in it (No one likes free things like rich people). When we were flying to Dublin for Worldcon my wife and I splurged and flew business class on Air Singapore. We had those wonderful cubicle seats that fold down flat for sleeping (not that comfortable, really). We joked that the door in front of us led to the private suites from CRA.
Same reaction right here! I thought the movie was charming and funny and well put together. And when he goes to propose that second time, I instantly knew it would have THE RING, but when we see it, I was all WAAAAHHHHH IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL MOM ACCEPTS HER WAAAAAAHHH sobbing like a mad thing.
Fortunately, I was watching it all alone in my house. The cat doesn’t look at me funny when I cry.