Warner Bros. // 1994 // 95 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // April 1st, 2005
An adventure so big even the world's richest kid couldn't afford to miss it.
What's the world's richest kid to do when he finds his parents missing / presumed dead, and his family fortune on the brink of annihilation? Well, pretty much anything he wants, since he's the world's richest kid (duh!).
I'm talking, of course, about Richie Rich (Macaulay Culkin, Home Alone), who lives in an upscale multimillion-dollar mansion with his doting parents (Edward Herrmann and Christine Ebersole) and a gaggle of live-in butlers, maids, business associates, and scientists. When an unscrupulous family business associate, Lawrence Van Dough (John Larroquette, Blind Date), hatches a plan to kill off the Rich family and steal their fortune, it's up to little Richie Rich to foil his plot before the Rich family becomes dirt poor!
The career of Macaulay Culkin generally went the way most of us expected. Culkin burst upon the scene in Uncle Buck, where little Mac practically stole the movie out from under the late John Candy. Only two short years later, Mac starred in 1990's Home Alone, a holiday comedy by director John Hughes (Ferris Bueller's Day Off) that inexplicably went on to became one of the top-grossing films of all time. Then Mac made the moderately successful My Girl, then a rehashed sequel to Home Alone, and from there it all went downhill faster than you could say "puberty." After a string of bombs and disappointments (Getting Even With Dad, The Good Son, The Pagemaster), Mac made his final film before taking a nearly decade-long hiatus from acting. That film was Richie Rich.
Needless to say, Mac did not go out on a high note.
Richie Rich is based on the Harvey comic book character of the same name. Just who is Richie Rich? Why, he's the wealthiest kid in the world. His parents own an enormous home and have billions in assets, plus a gigantic mountain in the backyard with their faces carved into the side.
Bill Gates, eat your heart out.
Richie Rich has always been one of the least interesting characters in comic history. He's basically a spoiled but polite child who has everything at his disposal, including a loyal butler named Cadbury (Jonathan Hyde) and a dog named Dollar with -- you guessed it -- dollar signs for spots. Because Richie Rich is a blasé character, you get no bonus points for guessing that Richie Rich the movie is mundane and uninspired. Safely falling into the "it's bad enough to be boring but not bad enough to be horrible" category, Richie Rich skates along on a plot that leaves little room for fun or excitement.
As I watched Richie Rich I felt as if I could have written the screenplay myself, drunk and blindfolded. Let's see...he's a stinkin' rich kid, so there's gotta be some kind of attempt at having his fortune stolen. Hmmm...how about someone close to the Rich family? Yeah! Oh, we also need to have his parents out of the picture, so Richie can be all by himself -- maybe they go down in a plane, but don't get killed because it's a kid's movie, after all -- which leaves Richie behind to figure out how to thwart the bad guy. And just to make things poignant, let's add in a subplot about how Richie is monetarily wealthy, but flat broke when it comes to having friends his age. And a love interest. And wacky gadgets. Cut, print, roll credits.
There isn't much to be said for the performances, since none of them are very memorable. As Richie, Macaulay Culkin looks to be just on the verge of becoming an annoying junior high school brat -- and did you ever notice that the older he got, the more he looked like a real-life Muppet? John Larroquette, so funny in the TV series Night Court, is relegated to being almost too mean to be the villain in a kids' comedy. Edward Herrmann comes off the best at Richie's father, always trying to see the silver lining in a dark cloud (I liked when he and his wife were stuck on a life raft with nothing but fine foods to survive on). Other than that, I dare you to watch this film and the next day recall anyone else who was onscreen.
Richie Rich is forgettable fodder that might entertain kids, and will surely bore their parents. I guess the billion-dollar question is: Why would you feel the need to sit through this drivel when there are so many other, better, funnier kids' movies to chose from?
Richie Rich is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Warner Bros. has done a decent job of making this transfer look clean and clear, though it's certainly not a million-dollar image. The disc provides bright, crisp colors and black levels, without any major distortion in the picture. Digital artifacting and other imperfections are generally absent. Basically, this transfer does the job that's needed, and little else.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. While you're getting a 5.1 mix, I can't say it's the most exciting track on the planet. There are a few surround sounds to be heard here, though they're few and far between -- this is a mostly front-heavy sound mix. All aspects of the mix are free of any hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc is a Dolby 2.0 Surround track in French, as well as English, French and Spanish subtitles.
The extra features on this disc are worth about a nickel -- all you get is a theatrical trailer for the film.
Review content copyright © 2005 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Theatrical Trailer