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For Richer or Poorer

cinematic poster
Directed by Bryan Spicer
Produced by Richard Baker
Written by Jana Howington
Steve LuKanic
Starring Tim Allen
Kirstie Alley
Jay O. Sanders
Michael Lerner
Wayne Knight
Music by Randy Edelman
Cinematography Buzz Feitshans IV
Editing by Russell Denove
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date(s) December 12, 1997
Running time 115 min.
Country United States
Language English

For Richer or Poorer is a (1997) comedy film starring Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley. It is rated PG-13 for some sexual innuendo and one use of strong language.



After ten years of marriage, New York millionaire socialite couple Brad and Caroline Sexton are miserable and have decided to call it quits. Their marital problems come to a head earlier that evening when Brad (Allen) turns their tenth anniversary party into a real estate development pitch for a theme park he calls "The Holy Land", modeled after Biblical lore. The pitch turns disastrous when one of the display's special effects catches a guest's (who happens to be a federal judge) dress on fire.

At the same time, Brad's accountant, Bob Lachman (Wayne Knight), is up to his own tricks, making the Sextons' millions disappear into his own pocket mostly through mismanagement and filing false tax returns. His money manipulation has caught the attention of the IRS, and field agent Frank Hall, demands to meet Lachman and Brad the following morning to bring the obligations up to the tune of $5,000,000.

Lachman arrives at the office early the following morning with a file box (likely the incriminating paperwork that could land him in jail) and an agenda...leave before Brad arrives. Though he doesn't get out in time, he manages to finally evade Brad...and Hall, who has just shown up.

Hearing a hint from Lachman that the Sextons could be fleeing, Hall orders the freezing of all their assets. Brad is unable to access his money through an ATM and Caroline (Alley) has her credit card destroyed at her table as she's having lunch with some friends. Brad is then informed that his accounts have been frozen, but the bank teller refuses to tell him why. He then gets Lachman on the phone, who tells him that he himself is the cause of their newfound problems as he's getting ready to head to the airport.

IRS Inspector Derek Lester (Larry Miller) loves his job and goes non-stop. His assignment: the Sextons. He joins Hall as the pair attempt to bring the couple in. As Lester and Hall chase Sexton on foot, they track him to a bull statue on Wall Street. Brad takes out a satellite phone to place a call, but the trigger-happy Lester mistakes it for a gun and pulls out his own pistol, shooting it out of Sexton's hand.

Brad steals a cab and happens upon Caroline. He orders her in the car. The Sextons end up on the run from the police and find themselves hiding in Intercourse, Pennsylvania; a small Lancaster-area community of Old Order Amish. Brad drops in on a conversation and after stealing some clothes, they masquerade as Jacob and Emma Yoder, a family's (also named Yoder) expected cousins from Missouri. Sam and Levinia (Jay O. Sanders and Megan Cavanagh), along with their sons and daughters, make the pair at home.

The pair try to fit in, and while Brad manages to adjust well, the prima donna Caroline, deprived of cigarettes and creature comforts, throws various childlike tantrums when she and Brad are alone. Gradually, both learn to fit in through their own abilities. Brad with his knowledge of real estate values, helps Sam's future son-in-law Henner buy a plot of land, and Caroline's knowledge of fashion helps their conservative ordnung relax their colorless dress code.

The Sextons then rediscover why they fell in love in the first place, largely through their efforts of helping others rather than themselves. As Sam and Levinia's daughter Rebecca is exchanging vows with Henner, the ceremony is interrupted by police. The Sextons are exposed and hauled back to New York to face trial. Their attorney Phil Kleinman (Michael Lerner) informs them that he found Bob and had him extradited back to the U.S. Charges against them are dropped.

Brad and Caroline return to the Yoders to make things right, but their pleas for forgiveness seem to fall on deaf ears. As they're turning to leave, Sam informs them that he and Levinia knew the whole time of the ruse. They said they put up with it because it was planting season and they needed the extra help. Brad offers to give his watch as a present only to be told that their Amish cannot accept gifts only trades. He then proceeds to trade the watch for a horse and a some corn. Brad also tells Yoder that maybe he should not open the back of the watch; the watch seems to have in it a risque picture which amuses Yoder. The movie ends with Brad and Caroline driving a 1954 Ford pickup with a horse trailer hauling Big John, a gargantuan Belgian horse that Brad (as Jacob) tamed largely by dumb luck. It's then revealed that the Sextons traded their 1997 Jaguar coupe for the truck. In the closing credits it is revealed that Caroline is pregnant with the couple's first child.


For Richer or Poorer flopped at the box office when first released earning about $31 million domestically for an estimated budget of $35 million. It was also considered to be one of Tim Allen's worst films during the run of his famed television series "Home Improvement". However the film did well when it was released on video and over the years it has gained a cult following being shown sporadically on cable channels.


  • Bryan Spicer .... Director
  • Jana Howington .... Writer
  • Steve LuKanic .... Writer

The Sextons

New Yorkers

Yoder Family

Real Estate Salesman


External links



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