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The Rich Man's Wife
Starring Halle Berry, Christopher McDonald;
Peter Greene, Clive Owen, and Clea Lewis
Directed by Amy Holden Jones


The very last word of The Rich Man's Wife is a derisively shouted "Suckers!" -- which is an apt description of anyone who shells out hard earned bucks for this abominable piece of rot.

I don't know what it is about the human ego that makes successful writers think that they can direct. Correction, direct well. The press kit for Rich Man's Wife provides the info that writer/director Amy Holden Jones began a career as a director (of something called Maid to Order back in 1987) but found great success scripting such box office hits as Indecent Proposal, Beethoven, and the genuinely good Mystic Pizza.

Somewhere along the line she decided to work in the thriller genre, penning the still unreleased The Relic and writing/directing the comedic movie on the chopping block today. "Comedic" is the appropriate word. The situations, both written and visual, are cliched up the wazoo. The direction is a mess. The acting is so bad it's funny, and continuity has been disregarded whenever necessary. The story, in and of itself, has been done to death.

Halle Berry plays Josie Potenza, the luscious, and 16 years younger, wife of a philandering, hard drinking, "network executive" named Tony (Christopher McDonald). They both know he's cheating, but she can't get a divorce because of a pre-nup and so wants to make one last attempt to save the marriage. To do so she breaks up her own extramarital affair with Jake (Clive Owen), a restauranteur who Tony has financed. Feel free to raise an eyebrow, folks, this revelation was only the first that brought cackles from the audience I sat with. As we shall also find out, Tony was not unacquainted with Jake's ex-wife Nora (Clea Lewis, in the only genuinely funny and relieving performance in the entire mess).

Josie and Tony go off into the mountains to patch things up, but he keeps drinking and has to return to work after less than 24 hours. A Jeep miraculously appears so that she can get around town. She meets and dines with the local psychopath, Cole Wilson (Peter Greene), who offers to dispatch hubby (she says "no") and then tries to rape her. She scares him off with a gun, the one bullet fired grazing his right cheek but scarring his left(!)

But when she returns to the city, hubby is brutally murdered and psycho man comes after her, blackmail on his mind. The cops investigating the murder are morons; there's an entire racial subplot that is so inane in comparison to the rest of the characterizations that I won't even bother. The parasitic press appears and vanishes only when deemed necessary, as do characters who may or may not be suspects in the crime. And the ex-lover's ex-wife (Lewis) shows up with all sorts of interesting distractions for the police to deal with.

Only a moron of a character could be sucked into what passes for a threat, and Berry doesn't play the character stupid enough. Which is the entire point, as the final gag of the film nails home.

Oh yeah, guns fire eleven or more bullets without reloading. Cars appear and disappear at will. Security Gates on roads seen in one shot, not more than a hundred yards away, aren't reached by cars driving at top speed for minutes. Camera shots are mismatched . . .

Ah, the heck with it. View at your own risk.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for The Rich Man's Wife, he would have paid . . .


For Clea Lewis' performance. And nothing but.

The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.