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Movie Review

For Richer or Poorer

Reviewed by: Brian Nigro

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
98 min.
Year of Release:

Starring: Tim Allen, Kirstie Alley, Wayne Knight / Director: Bryan Spicer / Released by: Universal Studios

Moviegoers last saw the Amish (an order of the Mennonite Church based primarily in Ohio and Pennsylvania, for those who don’t know), in Randy Quaid’s crude imbecle in “Kingpin” (1996). Ever eager to please Christian audiences, Universal Studios brings back cardboard Amish characterizations for an encore in “For Richer or Poorer”, a bland “family values” comedy starring Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley.

I call this a “family values” comedy because it’s clearly pro-marriage, anti-divorce. (If it weren’t for the pervasive sexual innuendo, this would actually be worthwhile for any Promise Keeper.) The movie deliberately lets the audience know that Tim Allen, playing a successful real estate magnate, and Kirstie Alley, his superficial wife, are having marital problems. In the first few minutes, she suggests divorce—but, of course, that becomes the conflict to overcome in a two-hour movie.

Marital difficulty, though, isn’t the only problem. They are in trouble with the IRS, thanks in no small part to their financial advisor (played by Wayne Knight from TV’s “Seinfeld”). So, they hide out in Amish country, in an all-too-obvious hodgepodge that recalls both “Witness” (1985) and “Sister Act” (1992). Is there any question what happens next? It’s a no-brainer.

Tim Allen’s performance isn’t worth mentioning (“Jungle 2 Jungle”, anyone?); but, audiences will get major deja vu from Kirstie Alley giving pep talks to the Amish women who, the movie suggests, live for baking and cleaning. It’s almost line-for-line dialogue from “Sister Act”, which had Whoopi Goldberg’s Sister Mary Clarence jazzing up the church.

If director Bryan Spicer is becoming Universal’s pinch-hitter for “family values,” then perhaps all his movies deserve to bomb at the box office. The only thing missing from “For Richer or Poorer” is Tom Arnold—but, I didn’t sit through the end credits, so I’m not entirely certain about that, either.

“For Richer or Poorer” is rated PG-13 for pervasive sexual innuendo, including nearly a dozen profanities and frequent, conspicuous chain-smoking. Adults will find it rather juvenille and un-funny; yet, it’s not appropriate for young children, either. (Parents, are you listening?) Not recommended.

Viewer Comments
My husband and I really loved this movie. It was very funny and fast-paced. Kirstie Alley and Tim Allen were the perfect foils for each other, and their portrayals looked quite genuine. I liked the way the Amish came across, also, very humble and down-to-earth, not stupid or backwards.

The parts of the movie that could have been downplayed were the smoking and the cussing, but, all in all, these parts were not all that offensive and reflected some of the faults all of us have. There were good moral lessons, also—that love is more important than money or prestige, that God does things in His time, not in ours, and that we must humble ourselves to be truly happy.
My wife and I took our 12 year old daughter to see this. We liked the story line but felt there was no need for the swearing in it and sexual inuendos. We, as a rule, we do not watch PG-13 movies but after looking at your reviews, felt it may be passible. The reference to “ass,” the one or two times the “f” word was used, the “s” word, and others were not necessary but were used to build a tough image for the base characterization.

I believe this could have been done more tastefully and still accomplished the same results! The portrayal of the Amish way of life was fairly factual and the closeknit aspect of their way of life came through. There was no direct nudity, rather inferences but between a married couple. I liked the concept of a couple gone astray in life living in the fast lane coming to their senses through their experience in the Amish community. PG-13 is an appropriate rating due to language.
—John Switzer, age 47
The movie is good for a few laughs but that’s about it. I’d not take young children. Although not a total waste (certainly not as bad as some recent movies) make sure you have exhausted your best entertainment options before you view this one. There isn’t any content that I would think would be that offensive to most contemporary movie watchers. Other than some of sexual references the movies does actually have some redeeming qualities. I’d wait for the video version or see a reduced price showing.
—Bob Clark, age 34