BORN RICH

3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2002
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 75 minutes
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Some of our readers might wonder how it is a particular critic is selected to review a specific film. While usually it amounts to whoever is currently sober enough to drive to the theater and not in jail, occasionally a more conscious and reasoned choice is made. This is one of those times. When we at Film Threat first heard of this documentary about the lives and issues of young adults born into insane wealth, we realized the choice to make. By finding who among us had the most class resentment, it was determined that, not only being from a little third-world country called West Virginia, but the wrong side of the tracks in West Virginia, I had to be the biggest, angriest piece of white trash associated with this website. Now then, let’s move on to discuss this fine, fine motion picture. Heh.
Our story begins with our filmmaker, young Jamie Johnson. About to turn 21 and getting ready to receive his portion of the family inheritance (from the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune), he’s not so sure about what to do with his life. Standing at a crossroads (though not the one of Robert Johnson, or even Britney Spears), he decides to shoot a documentary. Sticking to the old adage about “going with what you know,” Jamie chooses to explore the troubles and tribulations of others in his situation, i.e., ultra-rich Gen-Y’ers from high-profile New York families, specifically his friends. After listening to the lot of them drone on about their life philosophies, trust funds, prenuptial agreements, self-gratification, shopping, and paranoia about getting “cut off”, I’m fairly sure Mr. Johnson came to the similar conclusion I did, that most of his pals are basically self-absorbed idiots, who rarely have to think about the things you or I do, such as paying the rent, health insurance, or Black and Hispanic people.
Usually, now would be the point in the review that I’d bring out my aluminum baseball bat of truth to intellectually knock some sense into the head of the filmmaker. However, I have to admit that after spending 90 minutes or so with Jamie Johnson, I think he actually gets it. A few others of his ilk do, too. The kid from the Whitney got it after spending a year away, working as a machinist in a Texas oil field. The youngest, Si Newhouse, (heir of the magazine empire Conde-Nast) almost gets it. Unexpectedly, Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka seems to get it, but then she was about the only girl not stupid enough to let Jamie film her shopping.
At the other end of the spectrum, though, we begin with the two European entries in our program, and it won’t matter how many times I club them over the head, they’ll never get it. As for the dumb ass born both as an Italian Viscount and a German Baron, dude, neither moniker will ever replace the more appropriate, “completely useless”. Of course, no discourse on Johnson’s stupid, rich friends would be complete without mention of one Luke Weil, heir to a sports-betting empire. Luke is the first brat we meet, and the one we most often see. At times, he seems to grasp at the truth, but just at the moment it might be in reach, he develops a severe case of cold feet, and promptly sues friend Jamie to block this documentary before Johnson has even finished it. After the case is thrown out of court, acting as if nothing is wrong, The Lukester actually shows up to Jamie’s 21st birthday party.
What to think overall? Surprisingly, even though the film pissed me off, I liked it. At least Johnson was honest to both the audience and himself, and kept an open mind. Really, that’s all you can ask for. I hope he, Si, the Whitney kid, and Ivanka have very nice productive lives. As for Luke and the others, they can take the Southamptons and shove it up their collective ass.



Posted on February 10, 2003 in Reviews by
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One Comment on "BORN RICH"

  1. ashton on Wed, 16th Feb 2011 8:41 pm 

    great review, spot on.


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