I don't think the movie impacted society much at all. Yes, it was a faithful adaptation of the novel, but it wasn't nominated for any major Academy awards.
It has some nice cross-cutting, as it transitions from the 1920s to the 1950s and the 1990s fairly seamlessly. But, other than that, it's unremarkable.
The novel, however, made a splash in the literary world as Chinese-American immigrant literature, as a feminist novel, and as a coming-of-age bildungsroman.
The novel examines the hybrid identity, as Jing Mei says she becomes Chinese by the end of the novel after she visits China and her twin half-sisters, but I don't really believe her.
Just as she never learns to play Mah-Jong or chess using Chinese strategy, Jing-Mei never feels or thinks Chinese by the novel's end; in fact, she continues to narrate as a post-modern American: linear-thinking and quick to point out things.
It is the narrator's repeated visual comparison of what she thinks will be old-world China to post-modern America that sets a very American tone: "From a distance, it [Shanghai] looks like a major American city"; "...each of them [her half-sisters] holding a corner of the [Polaroid] picture, watching as their images begin to form"; "She [Lili] immediately jumps forward, places one hand on her hip in the manner of a fashion model, juts out her chest, and flashes me a toothy smile."
Even the title, "A Pair of Tickets," emphasizes the purchased objects of a journey. After having depicted the first-generation cousins as spoiled, Tan uses positive imagery of consumerism to drive home her themes of cultural and female identity, giving as much homage to the Garden Hotel and Number One Department Store as Buddha and the Great Wall. It would be understandable if she used images of materialism to juxtapose the old world Chinese values with the new world "American Dream," but with statements like "I feel as if I were getting on a number 30 Stockton bus in San Francisco" but "I am in China" (272), Tan (or Jing-Mei) is not so much discovering her ancestral roots, but realizing that her Communist homeland is not so communal--it is as modern and capitalistic as California.