Old Lady Movie Night: "Richie Rich"

Old Lady Movie Night is a weekly (or so I try) column in which we gather, dressed like grandmothers, and watch/criticize movies in the spirit of, say, Dorothy Zbornak. You’re not old if you like these movies, you’re not old if you know them. But sometimes I like to think of myself as the lady on The Simpsons who throws cats at people while wearing cardigans. Probably because one day I know I will. (The cats will have been trained, don’t worry.)

So here we are again. Currently, it’s so humid in Ontario that despite having done my hair twice already today, it’s now doing a terrific impression of Monica Geller’s look in that episode of Friends when they go on vacation. (And she has to get the braids.) (Remember? Hello? Guys? Come on. HELP ME OUT HERE.) Unfortunately, my hair is too short for braids, and also fortunately, I don’t have the face for them. But you know what I do have a face for? Watching movies, and then writing about them which we are now about to experience together as some beautiful collective team and/or commune.

This week we’re going back. Way back. So far back that I was young enough when this movie came out that my Nana was angry that she rented it for me because it was too violent. Yep, I think the answer to “what movie are we watching this week?” is simple: we’re watching the 1994 family classic, Richie Rich.

I have a lot of feelings about this movie. First, Macauley, if you can read this, way to wear that Gosling t-shirt — good call. Second, I had a crush on the butler (we’ll explore that in time) as a child, and those feelings haven’t gone away. Third, I wanted to be the little girl because DUH, she was a tough-talking baseball player. That’s all I want to be even now. (And then subsequently date the British butler because that is who I AM.)

So enough with the time-wasting. This is the summer of preteen crushes. JTT, Devon Sawa, Leo, get set: I’m coming for you. But first, Macauley. It’s your time to shine.

1. It is INSANE these people dressed their young child up in suits


IT IS INSANE. Do you guys know any rich people who do that? Do you know any rich people at all? (I know, I think, a total of four — collectively, in my whole life.) And even though I’ve felt like I’ve committed a sin by even stepping in and around their properties, I breathe easy knowing that no child within them has ever worn an ascot. “We want you to be a normal child! But first, here — dress this way” is what I guess Richie’s parents said to him one day. Seems like what they REALLY wanted was for him to represent the 1% in the biggest way, and then put him in the line of fire as soon as he meets a regular 99%-er. These parents, man. We can only hope Richie used all his money to build a huge baseball park that’s free to get into.

2. And why would Richie’s parents not let Richie have real friends?


RIGHT? Why is Cadbury the Butler I Love the only person he’s allowed to hang out with? How did this pregnancy and child-rearing go? “We will have the boy, then he will not leave the house.” I think even Prince George will get to leave the house. Man, I’m pretty sure he can leave the house NOW, and he’s a tiny baby. I get that Cadbury is the total bomb, but still. There must be other kids in ascots in need of friends, too.

3. Oh RELAX Ferguson

So Richie FINALLY gets to hang out with some kids at the baseball diamond (those kids are us) (and/or so I dreamed), and Ferguson the Security Guy (TM) is all, “NO! You’re not allowed!” WHY, FERGUSON. Because he might experience JOY for the first time in his short life? GOD FORBID A CHILD ENJOYS SOMETHING. Ferguson. See? This is when you know you can’t trust him. This is when you say to yourself, “This guy Ferguson? He’s bad news.” Did you say that to yourselves? Of course you did. We were geniuses, even as kids.

4. The Dadlink was the original GPS

And for that I think we all owe Richie Rich a little praise. I mean, did the GPS inventors watch this movie and think to themselves, “We’ve got to invent something like this”? Probably. I would. I remember watching and thinking, “I would do literally anything for a Dadlink.” Not because I didn’t get to talk to my Dad (he wasn’t a rich guy travelling the world), but because if I ever got stranded in the middle of the ocean, somebody could find me. Yes, I thought about things like that as a nine-year-old. No, it hasn’t gotten better since.

5. Let’s talk about how cool Gloria is


SHE IS SO COOL. Is she maybe one of the coolest female leads in the preteen films of yesteryear? MAYBE. I mean, I’m not about to look up every female lead in every preteen film, but Gloria ABSOLUTELY has landed in the top three. She takes no-nonsense, she’s a killer baseball player, and she is a force to be reckoned with. Also, she dresses the way we all do now. Meaning: she is probably a time traveller. And that, to me, makes her the real hero.

6. I love Diane her mom, BTW

Because DUH. You know where Gloria learns to accept no-nonsense? Her Mom, who is NOT. HAVING. IT. (Nonsense.) (Also, anything.0 (Also, I thiiiink this actress was on Home Improvement in seasons one and two, which I totally noticed at age nine and explains my strange sense of pop culture-oriented superiority). But guess who else loves it: Cadbury, the LOVE OF MY LIFE (who played Bruce Ismay in Titanic, thank you), who is DOWN. Spoiler alert: they end up together. Spoiler alert x 2: I was so jealous of Diane when they kissed at the end. Spoiler alert x 3: I now aspire to be like Diane.

7. VAN DOUGH, GET OUT OF HERE


This guy just SUCKS. He sucks so much! You’re not even good at being a criminal! Didn’t you think the Smellmaster 9000 would detect the bomb? Didn’t you think that two people as beloved as the Riches would be missed? Didn’t you think at all? Also what an IMPATIENT character! And one who just insists on doing things himself. Here’s the problem: we all know the best villains never get their own hands dirty. And yet here Van Dough is, in the line of fire, walking the Riches to the vault HIMSELF like some person who’s never read a single blog on what makes characters like Don Corleone great. Do you think Don Corleone would walk his victims to their vault himself? FUGGHEDABOUDID (pronounced the way Hugh Grant does in Mickey Blue Eyes). This is basic. Diane does not approve.

8. Won’t lie: Cadbury in prison was not the worst thing

Not because he was in prison BUT because he is just SO HANDSOME. And then he has that special toothpaste and manages to fight his way out…? SWOON, is all I’m saying. Look. I don’t mean to objectify Cadbury. But I am saying that I understand why Diane was down. And why his leather ensemble was chosen. It doesn’t look horrible. THAT’S ALL I’M SAYING. WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING. OH WAIT I’M THE ONE WHO’S SHOUTING. Okay, I’m sorry.

9. Professor Keenbean, by the way, is the secret to Richie Rich’s success

Where would he be without Keenbean I ASK YOU THIS. Do we know if Keenbean gets enough praise? Does he get a lot of money and get to go out and feel like he is changing the world? Because guess what, Richard Rich:  HE IS. He developed GPS. Yeah, he probably even developed tagging on Facebook. And shout-out to POOR RICHIE whose only friends — up until Gloria and the sandlot gang — are a British butler and a middle-aged scientist. At least they’re both cool. And at least one probably has a share in Facebook right now. (Zuckerberg? If you’re reading this? Confirm or deny.)

10. AND GLORIA AND COMPUTERS!


Actually here’s a trend that we should probably raise our praying emoji hands in: girls in ’90s films being the geniuses. In this case, Gloria helps hack into the mainframe. In Sleepless in Seattle, Gaby Hoffmann teaches the little boy to book a flight, and in Jurassic Park, well, without their computer hacker, no one would’ve gotten out of the raptor room. The ’90s weren’t afraid of, you know, being real. What do you think Gloria grew up to be? I am assuming nothing less than a CEO. And of her OWN company — she doesn’t need Richie’s money. (And he knows it, and it’s great.)

11. Anyway though can we give some kudos to the writers of this movie for not abiding by any stereotypes?

I mean, really. First, yes, the Rich family are billionaires. BUT nobody is the worst. Like, Richard Rich is a straight-up philanthropist. He is a legitimate good person. Same with Regina. In their safe? IS FAMILY STUFF. Honestly. That’s what matters to them the most. Seriously, this movie should be mandatory viewing for anybody who works on Wall Street. Second, Gloria and Diane run the show. They are my saviours now. Until the next Old Lady Movie Night, at least. Third, I don’t have a third. But I love the look on Van Dough’s face when he is OVERCOME WITH CRUSHING DISAPPOINTMENT. What a failure of a human being. Yeah, you heard me, fictional character: why don’t you just mosey on down into the plot of The Wolf of Wall Street! Exactly. That’s what I thought. *finishes yelling at the sky*

12. If you are a billionaire though and you don’t have a Mount Rushmore-like mountain of your face, you are just wrong

JUST WRONG. What is the POINT of that much money without doing things like that with it? Even now, I wonder how I can spend what I earn on a mountain with my face carved into it. These are people who are doing wealth RIGHT. Also, so generous! Richie has the sandlot posse come over and they hang out and there’s a carnival and EVERYBODY WINS. Literally every human in this movie wins. (Minus Van Cough and Ferguson the Security Guy (TM).) And 99% of the characters are also freakishly intelligent. Dare I say we have not given Richie Rich the appropriate amount of credit? (I do! I do dare!) Dare I say that the women of this film are all 100% equal? And that it passes the Bechtel Test with flying colours? And that we should have more characters in preteen films like Diane and Gloria? Dare = accepted. I say and do mean all those things.

13. Also, shout-out to Regina for delivering the final punch to Van Dough

Because he is the FIRST PERSON Richard has fired. Out of ALL of his people! Is this man a saint? Maybe! I don’t know! I don’t really look into things like that. But I do look into the wonder of Regina who punched the guy after he’s terminated from his job. Like, as if doing it before he was fired would be wrong. As if after he shot at them and then their son, punching him when he was still employed would be bad form. But either way, shout out to Regina for going for it. She rounds out Gloria and Diane circle of three: women who are doing. it.

14. I was legitimately shocked, though, to see that Ferguson the Security Guy (TM) and Van Dough got work release so early


Can we talk about a shock? They try to kill a family, then kidnap the son, then try to kill them again, and these guys are already picking up garbage outside? Is that not a privilege that’s earned with serious time? Isn’t he a dangerous offender? And why is he so close to the field of kids? And how is nobody phased by him being there? Is this why there’s a sequel? Let’s say yes. So we can put all these questions to bed.

15. And yes, the ending is perfect, OBVIOUSLY

Because we all know Richie and Gloria are in love (and he is IN AWE of her, and rightfully so), and Diane and Cadbury are hooking up and it’s beautiful, and Richie has legitimate friends. Real ones. Real, baseball-playing friends. Do you know whose life is perfect? Richie’s. And fortunately, he had quite a tragedy a few months before so he doesn’t run the risk of losing perspective on life. Meaning? I don’t know. But I do hope his parents enrolled him in public school. That’s where their money should really be going THAT IS ALL I AM SAYING.

Cadbury, I’ll never forget you.

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