The “Crazy Rich Asians” Dilemma

When I watched Crazy Rich Asians last year, something happened at the beginning of the movie that made me pause. It didn’t quite make sense, but I realized if I thought too much about it, I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the movie. So I just let it go (and proceeded to be entertained).

I remembered that issue recently, and I’m going to discuss it today. Spoilers for the first 5 minutes of the movie below.

In the first scene, an Asian family steps out of the rain into a fancy London hotel. They’re treated very poorly. I think it’s the mother who then makes a phone call, and minutes later, one of the hotel employees reveals that the woman and her company have purchased the hotel.

It’s a great moment, and hopefully I’m remembering it correctly. However, there’s a glaring issue with it: No matter how rich you are, you can’t buy things if they’re not available for sale.

To put this in perspective, if you own a house, imagine if someone walked into your house right now and declared, “I’m buying this house!” Sure, they could make you an offer, but the power is in your hands, not theirs. You decide if someone will or won’t buy your house, not them.

If you don’t believe me, feel free to give it a try. The next time you get bad service at a hotel, restaurant, etc, contact the owner and tell them you’re buying the establishment. Let’s see how they respond.

In Crazy Rich Asians, let’s say that the family made an offer to the hotel owner that was so high that he didn’t even consider countering–he simply accepted the offer. If that’s the case, the hotel owner is the clear winner in this situation, not the rain-drenched family.

Obviously this is a huge nitpick that doesn’t matter, and I’m glad Crazy Rich Asians wasn’t a 2-hour movie about real estate negotiations, paperwork, and taxes. But it’s also not an isolated case–there are other movies (Inception comes to mind) when a key moment is defined by a really rich person buying a company as if companies are items on the shelf at the grocery store that you can pick and choose as you will. Perhaps this is a trope that can be better served by a dose of realism.

What do you think? Have you ever noticed this in a movie? Does it bother you?