Richie Rich may be the richest kid in the world, yet it's Christmas and the kind-hearted lad wants to share his wealth with a group of orphan boys. Until, that is, his greedy cousin Reggie Van Dough sabotages his gift-giving plans by running Richie's sleigh into a ravine. Unaware of Reggie's evil deed, the town turns against Richie, who soon wishes that he'd never been born. Unfortunately, his wish is granted and, like George Bailey, Richie gets a taste of what life is like without himself in the picture. It's a world turned upside-down with egomaniacal Reggie calling the shots, bullying the police and renaming the town Reggieville. Only Professor Keenbean's wishing machine could set things right, but time is running out--the machine loses all its wishing power at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve. This madcap misadventure, with a nod to film classics It's a Wonderful Life and Back to the Future (note the time-space continuum), never pretends to achieve the greatness of such predecessors. Instead, the spirited family romp dishes up enough slapstick gaffes, action-packed chases, and over-the-top gizmos to leave audiences sufficiently charmed. The cast seems to relish the script's fast-moving silliness as well. David Gallagher (Seventh Heaven) as Richie is more colorful and unrestrained than Macaulay Culkin in the 1994 prequel. And although Jake Richardson's role as mean-spirited Reggie is so forced as to become tiresome, Keene Curtis is sensational as Richie's personal valet, Cadbury. This is one of (executive producer) Haim Saban's finer moments; the film abounds with Christmas cheer. --Lynn Gibson
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