For Richer or Poorer - * 1/2*

Pity the Amish. Revered in The Witness, their Hollywood experience has been nothing but downhill since. Last year’s Kingpin hit new lows. The new comedy, For Richer or Poorer, treats them a bit more reverently, but you can’t help to think that they wouldn’t take too kindly to their portrayal…if they saw movies, that is…

Brad Sexton (Tim Allen) is a real estate developer with lots of questionable ideas (Euro-Alcatraz, or a HolyLand amusement park). However, so far he’s been successful, and the life of luxury is the only thing keeping him together with his shopaholic wife Caroline (Kirstie Alley). But all that’s about to change.

It seems that the Sexton’s accountant (Wayne Knight) has fudged a bit here and there, and now, with millions missing, he bails on the Sextons just as the I.R.S. starts an in-depth investigation. Being chased by two I.R.S. agents, the bickering Sextons flee. Soon, they discover the perfect place they can hide without notice: the Amish community of Intercourse, PA.

Posing as visiting cousins Jacob and Emma, Brad and Caroline worm their ways into the lives of the Yoder family (including Jay O. Sanders and Megan Cavanagh). However, the upper class couple soon discover that their rustic getaway won’t be as relaxing as they had hoped. It’s planting season, and the two visitors are put to work. Brad is enlisted to break in Big John, a monstrous new plow horse. Caroline is put to work in the kitchen, scrubbing floors, and demonstrating her famous quilting skills (even though Caroline doesn’t know how to sew).

If it’s not obvious from the setup, there’s nothing elaborate about the story in For Richer or Poorer. It’s your basic fish out of water story, combined with the “a simple life equals a good life” theme. Most of the jokes are groaners…if they’re that good. However, there are one or two genuinely funny moments which must have slipped past quality control.

The film has a bit of a problem with its continuity (not that it matters too much in this sort of comedy). The film isn’t concerned with invalidating the plot for several scenes in order to pull a quick gag or to force itself down a preconceived path. While the film survives this, it nags a bit on the conscience…couldn’t the writers either have written the film to fit the jokes, or the jokes to fit the film.

As a side note, it has been standard practice for several middling comedies to run their blooper reel during the credits. For Richer or Poorer takes another tack…although there’s one or two bloopers, it mostly shows scenes cut from the final release. While a couple of these are slightly amusing, you’re left to wonder…if these scenes are supposed to be that funny, why’d they cut them out in the first place?

Oh well, when you go to a film that advertises itself as an Amish comedy, you shouldn’t hope for the sky. And while definitely not a good film, For Richer or Poorer isn’t the catastrophic disaster it could have been.

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