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‘Richie Rich’ (PG-13)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 21, 1994

An especially tall supporting cast can't disguise the fact that "Richie Rich" is suffering from a big Mac attack. Once an adorable towhead, Macaulay Culkin, at 15, is now a burned-out child star. He not only has outgrown the role of little Richie, but evidently has used up his small store of talent.

Everything about this kiddie action comedy -- the lavish sets, the story line and the other actors' roles -- has been designed so that Mac doesn't have to act. He barely says a word throughout the flick's first half, which is devoted to flaunting the extent of the Rich family fortune.

Based on the Harvey Comics character, Richie Rich is the son of Richard and Regina Rich (Edward Herrmann and Christine Ebersole) and sole heir to their $70 billion fortune. As the wealthiest kid in the world, Richie has everything and everybody that money can buy. In addition to his personal McDonald's, he has his very own backyard roller coaster and a fleet of all-terrain vehicles. Reggie Jackson is his batting coach and Claudia Schiffer serves as his personal trainer.

The one thing he doesn't have is -- sniff -- friends his own age. There are the other tiny tycoons-to-be at his prep school, but they don't know the first thing about baseball. And while his devoted butler, Cadbury (Jonathan Hyde), plays a little catch from time to time, he's so gosh awful stiff. It's as if he'd swallowed a cricket bat. But he does help Richie make friends with a rough-and-tumble gang of ethnically diverse kids from a regular neighborhood.

When his charmed life is threatened by a money-mad executive (John Larroquette), Richie -- aided by the kids, Cadbury and the brainy Prof. Keenbean (Michael McShane) -- foils the villain's plot and prevents a takeover of Rich Industries. Richie's plan entails relocating his parents, who are temporarily lost at sea with nothing but a Vuitton bag, a couple bottles of Dom and a morsel of pate. There is also a chase atop Mount Richmore, an enormous family portrait recently carved into a bluff near the 8,000-acre Rich estate.

Directed with an eye toward haste by Donald Petrie of "Grumpy Old Men," the mediocre screenplay (by Tom S. Parker and Jim Jennewein of "The Flintstones") is a more sober version of "Arthur," with elements from "Our Gang," "North by Northwest" and TV's "Gilligan's Island." The filmmakers seem to think of their movie as a fiduciary fable, but they're not quite sure about its moral.

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