The venerable "I wish I were never born" plot of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) gets another holiday movie workout in RICHIE RICH'S CHRISTMAS WISH, a silly, but serviceable, made-for-video sequel to 1994's bigscreen RICHIE RICH, which featured aging moppet Macaulay Culkin.
On Christmas Eve, 12-year-old Richie Rich (David Gallagher), the richest boy in the world, prepares to deliver some presents to the Richville orphanage, which, along with everything else in town, is owned by his tycoon father (Martin Mull). While Richie drives a motorized sleigh invented by
Professor Keenbean (Eugene Levy), the spoiled brat Reggie Van Dough (Jake Richardson) steals the remote control and causes the sleigh to crash, destroying the toys and injuring Richie's butler Cadbury (Keene Curtis). After Reggie and everyone else in town blame Richie for the accident, Richie
hides in Keenbean's laboratory and wishes that he had never been born, unaware that Keenbean's newly invented wishing machine is nearby. Richie is sucked into the machine and when he emerges, discovers that his father and mother (Lesley Ann Warren) now work for Reggie, who owns the whole town and
has turned it into a police-state and a slum. Reggie tries to have Richie arrested, but he escapes, and with the help of Cadbury and some friends, he tracks down Keenbean and they steal a giant dinosaur wishbone from a museum to make his wishing machine work. Richie wishes that he was born and is
successfully transported to the real Richville, where his family and friends warmly welcome him back.
RICHIE RICH'S CHRISTMAS WISH is pretty much par for the course for what passes for family entertainment these days: an innocuous merchandising and marketing product by a comic-book company (Harvey) that owns the rights to a character, in partnership with a leading supplier of kids television
programs, Saban Entertainment ("The Power Rangers," "Beetleborgs," et al.) The result is like an extended Saturday-morning TV show, with calculated fantasy elements involving dinosaurs, ninja costumes, skateboards, various electronic gadgets, and a luxurious mansion that's like a gigantic
toystore, as well as rudimentary cartoon-like sets and not-so-special effects that look like they could have come straight from "The Power Rangers" (especially a robotic, fire-breathing maid). Though the film is overlong and slows down too much to deal with the dull adult characters, kids should
be moderately entertained by Richie's misadventures, while older viewers can only sigh at the sad fact that two erstwhile great satirists (Martin Mull and Eugene Levy), are now playing second fiddle to a blond-haired, blue-eyed moppet in a kids video which also costars that noted thespian Marla
Maples, Donald Trump's ex-wife. The story pays lip service to morals about "responsibility" and the concept of "noblesse oblige," but the real message is revealed at the end, as the happy citizens of Richville gather around a Christmas tree and sing a carol, and the camera pans up to show a golden
angel sitting atop the tree, holding a dollar sign in its hand.
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: G
- Review: The venerable "I wish I were never born" plot of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) gets another holiday movie workout in RICHIE RICH'S CHRISTMAS WISH, a silly, but serviceable, made-for-video sequel to 1994's bigscreen RICHIE RICH, which featured aging moppet M… (more)