Movie Review

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Richie Rich

reviewed by Dr. Barbara Mack Ph.D.

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Self-Help Parent Meter (Scale based on PG-13 films)
0 = Little or none      5 = Great amount or highly

Sex: (0)
Profanity: (1)
Violence: (3)
Fright: (1)

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"Richie Rich" (PG), a comedy-adventure based on the comic strip, is an entertaining movie that will appeal to children under age 13. Unfortunately, the film-makers reverted to the easy way out with a finale of violence.

Richie (Macaulay Culkin), the only child of billionaires Richard and Regina Rich (Edward Herrmann and Christine Ebersole), is a good natured, well mannered 12 year-old. He is adored by his parents who lavish attention on him and expect him to carry on the family responsibilities. He has every material possession a boy could want, but he discovers one more need. He wants to play baseball with a group of ordinary kids whom he sees playing in an empty lot. Although they initially reject the rich kid, they eventually become his friends. They then help him in his struggle against the evil Lawrence Van Dough (John Larroquette) who tries to kill the Rich family in order to usurp their fortune.

"Richie Rich" has a moral: the important values in life are love,family and friendship. This is portrayed dramatically when Van Dough forces Mr.and Mrs. Rich to open their secret vault for him. Instead of diamonds and gold, Van Dough finds the couple's most valued possessions--their son's bronzed baby shoes, photographs and other mementos of their lives together. Richie also becomes aware of those values when he realizes that friendship with the other children would make him happier than all his fancy toys.

The film gives a picture of the rich without the negative stereotype that it often conjures. Although the family has great wealth, they are loving,compassionate, generous and charitable. Mr. and Mrs. Rich are ideal parents,and Richie is a terrific son. Wealth has neither corrupted the parents nor spoiled the child.

Richie's friend Gloria (Mariangela Pino) is seen as a strong female force.She is the team pitcher and the voice of morality for the other children. When one of the boys asks the butler for the money that he promised to pay the children if they would play with Richie, Gloria refuses to accept the money. The other children then follow her lead. Gloria is a good female role model for the young audience.

"Richie Rich" includes scenes that combine comedy with violence.Mr. and Mrs. Rich's private plane is bombed and crashes with them in it. They survive the crash to be kidnapped by Van Dough. Richie is also held captive. The Rich's loyal butler is unfairly put into jail where an inmate attacks and tries to kill him. The children are put into a cage and their lives are threatened. The final fight includes shooting and a fall from a cliff. With all this, the audience does not see blood or anyone really hurt.Although this type of violence may seem mild and acceptable for children to see, it actually gives them an unrealistic view of the consequences of violence and desensitizes them to violence in general. "Richie Rich" is a mixed bag with some positive messages and some unnecessary violence. If your child sees the film, it would be helpful to discuss the violent scenes with him or her.

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