For Richer Or Poorer

1997, PG-13, 120 min. Directed by Bryan Spicer. Starring Tim Allen, Kirstie Alley, Jay O. Sanders, Michael Lerner, Wayne Knight, Larry Miller, Marla Maples.

REVIEWED By Hollis Chacona, Fri., Dec. 19, 1997

For Richer or Poorer juxtaposes the simple, pure life of the Amish with the glittering, indulgent excesses of wealthy Manhattanites. Watching it, you can't help but ponder great anthropological questions. For instance, why is it that rich, spoiled women walk around with their arms extended, wrists limp, and fingers splayed? Is it to illustrate helplessness in the face of any distasteful domestic chores or is it to display to the fullest their immaculate manicures and truly fine jewelry? And why should the Amish restrict themselves to wearing black or gray when a nature-inspired fashion palette of austere aubergines and rustic russets would so enrich their lives without making them any less plain? These and other telling observations of life are brought to the fore as rich New York socialites Brad and Caroline Sexton (Allen and Alley) are forced to flee the city when their empire and status are threatened by a gun-brandishing IRS investigator. An accident en route leaves them stranded in the Amish community of Intercourse, Pennsylvania where, faster than a Clydesdale-drawn buggy, the couple find themselves posing as Emma and Jake, the distant cousins of the Yoder family. The Yoders (every Amish person in this movie is named Yoder) have come to Intercourse to help with the harvest and receive, in return, some marital counseling -- a felicitous coincidence, as the Sextons' marriage is in precisely the same shape as their finances. What happens, of course, is that the Sextons discover the pleasures of an honest and simple life -- rising at 4am, scrubbing floors, and eating schnitz pie. And, without all that wealth and luxury to confuse them, they discover that they really love each other! Allen's silly putty face gets a real workout as he struggles with the confounding perplexities of Amish life. Alley transfers her current TV series bimbo to the big screen without even the slightest alteration. Filling out the rest of the type cast are the ubiquitous Wayne Knight (Seinfeld's Newman) as the larcenous accountant and Larry Miller, the stand-up comic who seems to have made a career out of playing idiotic officers of the law. This is a soundly unfunny, roundly implausible movie that purports to extol human values and expose the underbelly of materialistic life. Except for a nasty little turn by Marla Maples as the Queen of Victorious Divorces, and some lovely, bucolic scenery, For Richer or Poorer is not even remotely interesting. Instead of a sweet and funny look at the simple life, it is a long, boring look at the life of simpletons.

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For Richer Or Poorer, Bryan Spicer, Tim Allen, Kirstie Alley, Jay O. Sanders, Michael Lerner, Wayne Knight, Larry Miller, Marla Maples

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