Friday December 12, 1997
The chemistry between Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley is so good it's too bad that "For Richer or Poorer" isn't as much fun as they are.
They're cast as a Donald and Ivana Trump-like couple who've soured on each other after 10 years of marriage. They put on a good show for their 10th wedding anniversary, which also serves as a promotion for Allen's latest real estate venture, a thunderingly tasteless Holy Land theme park.
Never fear, the park is not to be, for their accountant (Wayne Knight) has robbed them blind, and they're soon fleeing arrest for tax fraud in a stolen Manhattan taxi, which veers off the road into a pond in the heart of Pennsylvania's Amish country. There, they manage to pass themselves off to a kindly Amish family, headed by Jay O. Sanders and Megan Cavanaugh, as relatives visiting from Missouri. You can pretty much take it from there: Hard work and clean living have their salutary effect on the couple's values and regard for each other.
Jana Howington and Steve Lukanic have written well-developed parts for the stars who shine under Bryan Spicer's direction, and they treat Amish customs with affectionate respect. The film's biggest problem is that at nearly two hours it's simply too long for a romantic comedy and that too often its humor is broader than the side of an Amish barn, which undercuts the film's more credible intimate moments. The writers get off some zinging lines, but the film's scale and garish tone are too artificial to encourage suspension of disbelief. Indeed, the spoiled nouveau riche couple are so transparently phony in their Amish gear that we have to leave open the possibility that their Amish hosts aren't fooled for a second.
Still, it is a pleasure to see such pros as Allen and Alley, seasoned by the discipline of TV sitcom, play off each other so well. Michael Lerner lends credibility as the kind of take-charge attorney we all wish we could afford if we got into trouble, and Marla Maples and the Plaza Hotel are on hand just in case we don't make the satiric Trump connection. Allen and Alley, who make an attractive and believable couple, never miss a beat. Unfortunately, that's not the case with "For Richer or Poorer."
For Richer or Poorer, 1997. PG-13, for some sexual innuendo and one use of strong language. A Universal presentation of a Bubble Factory production. Director Bryan Spicer. Producers Sid, Bill and Jon Sheinberg. Executive producers Richard Baker, Rick Messina & Gayle Fraser Baigelman. Screenplay by Jana Howington & Steve Lukanic. Cinematographer Buzz Feitshans IV. Editor Russell Denove. Costumes Abigail Murray. Music Radny Edelman. Production designer Stephen Hendrickson. Art director Bob Shaw. Set decorator Beth Kushnick. Running time: 1 hour, 56 minutes. Tim Allen as Brad Sexton. Kirstie Alley as Caroline Sexton. Jay O. Sanders as Samuel Yoder. Michael Lerner as Phil Kleinman.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun