Welcome to the first part of my Youth-Led Film Double Feature! This review will contain spoilers and here is the link to the double feature’s introduction:
1. In your double feature’s introduction, you mentioned the fact both Rich Kids and Over the Edge were released in 1979. Is there anything from this time period that could have influenced these films?
The film, Rich Kids, explores how wealth does not make an individual or a family invincible, as well as how money does not solve every problem. These morals can also be found within the Getty kidnapping case, which was showcased in the movie, All the Money in the World. Wealth could not prevent John Paul Getty III’s parents from divorcing or experiencing personal conflicts. Money doesn’t take away the trauma John Paul Getty III likely dealt with as a result of the kidnapping incident. Because this situation took place on July 10th, 1973, six years before the premiere of Rich Kids, I would guess the creative team behind Rich Kids absorbed these messages, contemplated on their importance, and wove a fictional, dramatic story around them.
2. In this introduction, you also mentioned how you originally thought Rich Kids “was a documentary style film about a group of rich kids growing up over a period of time”. Despite being different than what you expected, were you able to find some enjoyment in this film?
Rich Kids is a character-driven character study. When a film’s creative team decides to adopt this kind of story-telling, it’s important they create a cast of characters that the audience wants to spend their time with. Because these characters were well acted and written, it encouraged me to stay invested in their stories and journeys. In my opinion, I think it’s better that Rich Kids wasn’t the story I was expecting. Since this group of characters was smaller, it allowed the audience to not only become familiar with them, but to also truly know them. Had this film been about a group of children over the course of several years, it might have felt like they were competing against each other for attention.
3. Do the socio-economics of each film’s world affect the characters or the story?
While there was wealth being flaunted within this film, it didn’t happen as often as I thought it would. Rich Kids’ creative team places the wealth in the story to simply show it exists. But their primary focus is to present their characters as human, flawed, and inexperienced in life. When Franny visits Jamie at his father’s apartment for the first time, she is entranced by the magnificence of its existence. Even though she questions the cost of everything within that environment, her initial reaction is representative of how most people would react when entering a fantastical looking space. In reality, the characters influence the wealth, not the other way around.
4. Do you agree or disagree with Siskel and/or Ebert’s views on these films? Why?
In their review of Rich Kids, both Siskel and Ebert agree that the overall film should have kept its focus on the children. I second these opinions, as I found Franny and Jamie’s story to be more interesting than those of the adults. Because the divorce of Franny’s parents was inevitable and because Jamie’s parents were already divorced, there was no sense of intrigue from that part of the script. However, I do disagree with Siskel and Ebert on their views of the adults in this film. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “boobs” (Gene’s words, not mine), but I would say they are uninvolved in the lives of their children. They are so caught up in their own problems and stress, that they easily and quickly lose sight of what is really important.
5. When it comes to both films, Siskel and Ebert agreed on their views of the adult characters in each story. Did these characters have any significance within their respective movie?
As I said in answer number four, these adults were so caught up in their own issues, that they lost focus on their most important priorities. This part of the story highlighted the importance of young people having a parent, guardian, or mentor that maintains a healthy amount of involvement in their lives. Because these adults weren’t involved in the lives of their children, both Franny and Jamie lacked the guidance that they desperately needed. They ended up finding guidance and life lessons elsewhere.
6. Besides having young actors as the leads, do these films share any similarities?
I haven’t seen Over the Edge yet, but based on Siskel and Ebert’s review of that movie, I can confidently say that one similarity between these films is the frustration the young protagonists feel about not being heard or understood by the adults. In one conversation, Franny tells Jamie how they have few rights because of their young ages. This statement makes them feel powerless and limited in their abilities and resources. Both Franny and Jamie are twelve years old, an age when most adolescents want to be seen less as children and hope to achieve a little more independence. Through their behavior and choices, these aspects of growing up are incorporated in Franny and Jamie’s story, as they are trying to form their own identities.
7. Did you develop any thoughts and/or questions while watching this film?
I don’t have any questions, but I did come up with two thoughts while watching Rich Kids. The first is how I loved the set design of Jamie’s dad’s apartment! From the tropical inspired oasis which is the first room characters encounter to the eccentric and eye-catching media room, these sets were both imaginative and impressively caught on film. My second thought revolves around the psychological well-being of the children. During one conversation, Franny confesses to Jamie that she named her dog after an imaginary world she created in her mind. The more she visits Jamie at his dad’s apartment, the more she uses that space to materialize her imaginary world. Later in the film, Franny shares with Jamie that prior to the start of their friendship, she lost her sister due to medical issues. I wish this script would have left some room to talk about how divorce and even a death in the family can affect a child’s psychological state, especially since Jamie’s stepdad was a psychologist. But I guess there’s only so much you can do in an hour and thirty-six minutes.
8. Is there anything about this movie that you liked or didn’t like?
Like I said in answer number two, I thought the characters were well acted and written. Because of these components, it felt like the audience took a glimpse into the lives of real-life people. This script also gave these characters a chance to come across as relatable. As Ebert said in the Rich Kids review, the conversations of the children “have a ring of truth to them”. I feel this way not just with Franny and Jamie’s conversations, but with every person in this project. The characters and their journeys were one of the strongest parts of this film!
As for what I didn’t like about this movie, I was not a fan of how Franny’s parents didn’t explore other options before deciding to get a divorce. At one moment in the film, Franny’s father’s lawyer suggests that Franny’s parents attend marriage counseling. They don’t even bother thinking that idea over and choose to treat divorce as the “end all, be all” of their problems. Like I’ve said on more than one occasion, I feel that ending a romantic relationship is a decision that shouldn’t be chosen lightly, especially if children or those who are dependent on the couple are involved. While this story is about how children deal with divorce, I think Franny’s parents should have discussed other options first.
9. Is there any aspect of either film that could be seen as relevant today?
An overarching theme that I noticed in this movie was the idea of knowing you’re not alone when dealing with a serious issue. Throughout their relationship, Jamie helps Franny deal with her parents’ inevitable divorce. Because his parents divorced prior to the start of their friendship, Jamie is able to use his experiences to show Franny that she is not the only one who has traveled down that road. They both become a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear for each other. This idea is definitely just as relevant in 2020 as it was in 1979.
10. After watching Rich Kids, is there anything you can take away from your movie viewing experience?
The biggest takeaway for me is how everyone experiences hardship, no matter who you are or what your economic status is. But as Rafiki from 1994’s The Lion King said, “you can either run from it, or learn from it”. In Rich Kids, Franny and Jamie try to handle their problems the best they realistically can. They do this by relying on one another and providing insight when necessary. Because of this, they are able to temporarily escape their issues and build a lasting friendship.
Have fun at the movies!