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(1997) (Tim Allen, Kirstie Alley) (PG-13)

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Comedy: An unhappily married Manhattan socialite couple flee from the I.R.S. and end up in Amish country where they pretend to be visiting relatives.
Brad (TIM ALLEN) and Caroline Sexton (KIRSTIE ALLEY) are an unhappily married socialite couple living in Manhattan. Brad is a real estate developer, while Caroline is the epitome of an arrogant, high society wife, and after ten years of marriage the two can't stand each other. Still, they have their high rolling lifestyle, that is, until they learn that their accountant, Bob Lachman (WAYNE KNIGHT), has filed erroneous tax claims and embezzled their money. After Derek Lester (LARRY MILLER), a gung ho I.R.S. agent, mistakenly opens fire on Brad, the couple go on the run.

Suddenly broke and finding themselves in Amish country, Brad and Caroline pretend to be Jacob and Emma Yoder, visiting Amish relatives to Samuel (JAY O. SANDERS) and Lavinia Yoder (MEGAN CAVANAGH). They stay on the Yoder farm and quickly try to adjust to the lack of their usual creature comforts. Time passes, and as their lawyer Phil Kleinman (MICHAEL LERNER) tries to work things out for them, Brad and Caroline become more accustomed to their new, simpler lifestyle and begin to grow fond of each other again. Their masquerade, however, is soon threatened by agent Lester and his partner, Frank Hall (MIGUEL A. NUNEZ), who begin to zero in on the Sexton's whereabouts.

If they're fans of Allen or Alley, they might, but the plot probably won't have many kids begging to see this one.
For some sexual innuendo and one use of strong language.
  • TIM ALLEN plays a materially obsessed real estate developer who can't stand his wife and thinks up theme parks like "Holyland." Once he gets to Amish country, he of course changes his ways, works hard, and comes to love his wife again.
  • KIRSTIE ALLEY plays a snobbish Manhattan socialite who loves her cigarettes but hates her husband. Like him, however, once in Amish country she slowly becomes more human again and falls back in love with her husband.


    OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
    We can just see it now. The big studio meeting where the ideas for brilliant movies are formulated -- where many long, arduous hours are put in trying to come up with an idea and then write a script that's, well, picture perfect, for a lack of better words. The ideal cast is picked out -- thespians who can impart information with the most subtle gesture, look, or movement. And a director is chosen who can bring this all together into an Academy Award winning production. C'mon, you can see it now as well, can't you?

    Unfortunately, the people who made this movie must have been out getting coffee and thus missed that meeting. Granted, it's doubtful "For Richer or Poorer" was ever intended to be Oscar worthy, but at least those responsible could have made a better movie. This is essentially a run- of-the-mill "fish out of water" story, where the characters find themselves in a land that's pretty much foreign to them and they must adapt to its ways. While it gets that part right, this film borrows from so many other similarly plotted movies or TV shows, such as "Witness," "Kingpin," and even "Green Acres" among others, that you half expect to see Harrison Ford or Eddie Albert walk by at any moment, pitchfork in hand.

    The worst material is certainly at the beginning where Alley and Allen play the stereotypical couple who can't stand each other and bicker about how the other has ruined their rich lives. Their overacting and reacting are so horrendous and ham-filled that you expect Allen to say words like "dastardly" when he balls up and shakes his fists, and scrunches up his face. Alley does only a slight variation of her standard whiny character, but at least isn't quite as bad as Allen. Fortunately (for them and for us), the second half of the film allows the actors to tone down their characters and consequently they're much more enjoyable to watch.

    Of course it's assumed that the overacting -- other than being used in an attempt to induce laughs from being so exaggerated -- is supposed to be symbolic of their frenetic, big city lifestyle and that the calm, green pastures allow their characters to settle down. Perhaps that's the case, but it's so overdone by director Bryan Spicer that it sets the wrong mood right from the start. It takes a long while after the initial obnoxiousness to start to like them and/or partially care what happens.

    One can't blame Spicer too much, for his only previous directing credits -- "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie" and "McHale's Navy" certainly weren't case studies of garnering subtle acting performances from the cast. The moment I liked best, however, didn't involve characters, but instead a flying car. Out of control, the cab that Allen's driving becomes airborne and flies toward a pond, all of course in slow motion and with the sound of a racing engine last observed in scenes from TV's "The Dukes of Hazard." The Duke brothers (and Daisy of course) would be proud.

    The rest of the performances are a mixed bag. Larry Miller has a tough time trying to play the terribly written gung ho I.R.S. agent (that of course requires more overacting), while Wayne Knight (Neuman on TV's "Seinfeld") pretty much plays the same sweaty, nervous Nellie that he does in most of his appearances. Fairing a little better are Sanders and Cavanagh as the Amish couple, although they're not give much to do other than behave in what everyone assumes is the stereotypical Amish fashion.

    Writers Jana Howington and Steve Lukanic have borrowed so many cliches from other similar films that this one becomes a predictable no-brainer. There's never any doubt as to whether the main characters will get back together again, or that the I.R.S. agents will eventually find them and reveal their true identities, thus ruining their new and unexpectedly happy lives. Don't forget that both cultures will teach each other something that will change the other for the better, and you'll end up with pretty much all of the usual requirements for this stereotypical plot.

    The gags they've come up with are all standard fare -- Allen being dragged behind a farm animal (here it's a horse), Alley thinking things are "icky," and of course someone slipping in the mud and landing in some sort of animal excrement. Some people may find it funny, but none of it's new and most of it plays down to the absolute lowest common denominator. What surprised me the most was when the couple arrives in Intercourse, Pennsylvania (yes, there's actually a place named that). One would assume in an over the top movie like this that such a name would be a source of comic fodder, but the jokes relating to it are quite limited.

    Still, the film has an inkling of charm and the second half of the film saves it from being a total disaster. Fans of Allen and Alley will probably enjoy seeing their favorite stars in some new hijinks, and the overall message that life's all about the simple things gives the film the obligatory warm, fuzzy feeling to make you feel good before you leave the theater. If you're looking for a thoughtless outing at the movies where nothing will surprise you, this film might hit the mark. On the other hand, if you're looking for something different, or at least intelligently done, chose to be the first part of the title and don't buy the tickets. We give "For Richer or Poorer" a 3 out of 10.

    Beyond some profanity and a few instances of sexually related innuendo, the film isn't any worse than what you'd see on TV. 1 "f" and 15 "s" words top the language, while some squeaking beds and a few innuendo jokes highlight the sexual material. The main characters aren't nice to each other at first, and there are a few other "bad apples" in the film as well. Other than some limited smoking, drinking and a quick scene with a gun, there's not much else that's greatly objectionable. Nonetheless, you should read through the material should you or someone in your family wish to see this film.

  • Some people drink champagne at the Sexton's anniversary party.
  • Brad pours himself a drink back at their home, while Caroline pours herself one and downs it in one shot.
  • Several of Caroline's friends drink wine with lunch.
  • None.
  • Initially Brad and Caroline can't stand each other and often argue with or insult the other.
  • Brad has planned a theme park, Holyland, "inspired by God Himself" that will enrich their souls "while lightening their wallets." Areas would include "Harod's Place," "Torah! Torah! Torah!" and others. Some viewers may find this as mocking religion.
  • Bob the accountant has both as he's embezzled money and knowingly filed exaggerated tax returns.
  • Brad steals a cab and then eludes the police.
  • The Sexton's have both as they pretend to be relatives to an Amish family just so that they can stay with them.
  • Brad and Caroline initially look down on the Amish and she comments, "These people aren't right. They're like children of the corn."
  • None.
  • Handgun: Carried by I.R.S. agent Lester and fired at Brad, knocking a phone from his hand.
  • Handguns: Aimed by the police at the I.R.S. agents after they've been pulled over at the end of a car chase.
  • Phrases: "Up yours," "Moron," "Pissed off," "Bastard," "Bitch" (what Brad once calls Caroline), "Nuts" (crazy), "Idiot," "Jerk," "Whore," and "Shut up."
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • 1 "f" word, 15 "s" words, 1 slang term for male genitals (the "d" word), 9 asses (1 using "hole"), 5 hells, 2 incomplete S.O.B.'s, 1 damn, and 2 uses of "God," and 1 use each of "Oh God," "For God's sakes," "Good God," "Oh my God," and "Oh Lord" as exclamations.
  • When Caroline says that she can "do" divorce, Brad says, "You haven't done me in six and a half years."
  • After telling Caroline she's siting in cow dung, he changes the words and says, "My, oh my, isn't that cow hung?" (referring to its genitalia)
  • Seeing a sign that reads, "Welcome to Intercourse, PA," Brad says, "Not lately."
  • Seeing Caroline's cleavage in her Amish dress, Brad says, "You might want to tuck those bad boys in. You look like a Shakespearean whore."
  • There are several instances where Brad and Caroline hear the Yoder's bed squeaking at night (implying they're having sex). It doesn't last long and Caroline says, "Thank God they're quick. Like somebody else I know."
  • Later, the Yoders hear Brad and Caroline's bed squeaking.
  • Agent Lester says that he bets that the Sexton's are in the Caribbean somewhere having drinks and "copulating in unconventional ways."
  • Brad mentions that when he first met Caroline he "...went to Sax, looking for some socks, I got a suit, and some sex."
  • Caroline smokes in several scenes, but doesn't again once she's in Amish country.
  • Brad smokes a cigar in one scene and holds an unlit one in another.
  • A friend of Caroline's smokes.
  • The Sexton's don't get along and are headed for divorce (but no kids are involved).
  • The real Amish people and their lifestyle.
  • Caroline purposefully opens a car door into Brad's leg.
  • I.R.S. agent Lester, thinking that Brad's pulled out a gun (it's his phone), draws his gun and shoots the phone from Brad's hand.
  • Agent Lester drives over some poles and signs on the side of the road.
  • Caroline hits Brad with her purse.
  • After saying that he can almost forgive him, Brad punches his accountant in the face.

  • Reviewed December 12, 1997

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