This live-action film version of Richie Rich was mounted by no less than a pairing of John Davis, producer of the Predator films and Waterworld (1995), and Joel Silver, producer of action films like the Lethal Weapon series, Die Hard (1988) and The Matrix (1999). Richie Rich has been largely construed as a vehicle for Macaulay Culkin who was the most successful child star in the world at the time that the film was made. Predictably during the last quarter of the film, Richie Rich turns into a variation on Macaulay Culkins signature vehicle Home Alone (1990) with Culkin and friends leading an attack on the mansion and the one-dimensional villains undergoing various slapstick pratfalls and humiliations. Indeed, Richie Rich feels like more like a vehicle for the precociously annoying Macaulay Culkin than it ever is an adaptation of the comic-book.
Certainly the various characters of the comic-book Cadbury the butler, Dollar the dog, Professor Keenbean are all there. On the other hand, a good deal of modern humour tends to intrude jokes about cute butts, Richie lusting over Claudia Schiffer in a cameo as an exercise instructor which disrupt the innocence that the comic-book had. The comic-book was always a parody of excess wealth where Richie had vaults filled with money that stretched as far as one could see, dressed in clothes and slept in sheets embossed with dollar signs, even had a dog with dollar markings on its fur but the film rarely attains that. One scene where it does is the classroom where instead of school desks pupils sit at executive office desks, play office golf during lessons and fax instead of pass notes to the person at the next desk.
While the comic-book was a fantasy of hyper-capitalism and excess consumption, one tends to feel that the very act of giving such a fantasy three-dimensional life rudely and abruptly punctures the balloon that the comic-book existed in. The comic-book existed in a world where the realities that came with attaining wealth such as labour under-classes necessary to support such capital production, class disparity and a world where the other extreme (poverty) exists never entered into its sphere of comprehension. All of these are present in the film. However, with the film being made in the 1990s, a time when the wealth divide and social disenfranchisement was growing in America and where hyper-capitalism was rent by ugly truths about ruthless corporate greed, asset stripping and third world sweatshops, not during the 1950s/60s when the comic-book appeared and America was living in a post-War boom and such a fantasy seemed an amusing extension of what was conceivable, Richie Rich cannot help but seem smug in its attempt to create a fantasy of excess consumption. The film sort of tries to make a distinction between John Laroquettes one-dimensional villain who represents naked greed and Mr Rich who operates on a principle of personal decency, although is hardly convincing.
Richie Richs Christmas Wish (1998) was a video-released sequel. Subsequent to the film, Richie Rich was also spun out in a short-lived animated series Richie Rich (1996-7).
Director Donald Petrie has made various other comedies such as Grumpy Old Men (1993), The Associate (1996) and Welcome to Mooseport (2004) and Chick Flicks such as Mystic Pizza (1988), The Favor (1994), Miss Congeniality (2000), How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) and My Life in Ruins (2009). Donald Petries other genre efforts are the dismal remake of tvs My Favorite Martian (1999) and the majorly unfunny Lindsay Lohan teen comedy Just My Luck (2006).