- Movie Rating -

Rich Kids (1979)

| August 17, 1979

Rich Kids is a movie that rises and then falls on its lighthearted approach to a tough subject.  At its best, it is a tender and observant character study about the relationships between misunderstanding parents and their misunderstood offspring, in this case kids who are just starting to wade into the tripwire pools of adolescence.

The focus of the film is on young, pretty Franny Phillips (Trini Alarado) who is one of those kids who is endearingly naïve, yet you can always sense that she has an insightful outlook on the world that will serve her well as she grows older.  She is a New Yorker, living on the Upper West Side and being raised by her mother Madeline (Kathryn Walker) and her father Paul (John Lithgow).  The two are separated and making every effort to keep her from knowing this, yet unknown to them, she has put it together.

Franny’s best friend is a new kid in her class named Jamie Harris (Jeremy Levy) with whom she shares her problems.  His folks are divorced, so he shares with her what to expect when they finally split for good.  Franny and Jamie, not surprisingly become very close and eventually form a tender romance.  They decide that they are going to be together and get married less out of love and more to prove that they are smart enough to get the marriage thing right where their parents went wrong.

This story works beautifully as a human drama, but where the movie steps wrong is in the portrayal of the parents.  The characters are there, but they aren’t written beyond their function to the plot.  Franny’s dad struggles to get over his own selfishness but it never seems to be coming from a genuine place.  It seems to be motivated by what the story needs him to do.  Jamie’s father Ralph (Terry Kiser) is suffering from all the stereotypical affects of Middle Age Man – the stylish car, the airhead girlfriend, the bachelor lifestyle.

When the movie shoots for the moon, it really hits the bullseye, but when it sinks, it really disappoints.  I wish that the adults were written as sharply as the kids here.  Still, this is a good portrait of how kids interact at this age and what their thought process is.  It’s the kind of movie that you can talk about afterwards and wonder how their lives might have turned out.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1979) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized