6.5/10
1,655
41 user 17 critic

Born Rich (2003)

A documentary on children of the insanely rich. Directed by one of their own, Johnson & Johnson heir, Jamie Johnson.

Director:

Jamie Johnson
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Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ivanka Trump ... Herself - Real-Estate Heiress
Georgina Bloomberg Georgina Bloomberg ... Herself - Media Heiress
Si Newhouse IV ... Himself - Publishing Heir (as S.I. Newhouse IV)
Luke Weil Luke Weil ... Himself - Gaming Industry Heir
Cody Franchetti Cody Franchetti ... Himself - Textile Heir
Stephanie Ercklentz Stephanie Ercklentz ... Herself - Finance Heiress
Josiah Hornblower Josiah Hornblower ... Himself - Vanderbilt / Whitney Heir
Carlo von Zeitschel Carlo von Zeitschel ... Himself - European Royalty
Christina Floyd Christina Floyd ... Herself - Professional Sports Heiress
Juliet Hartford ... Herself - A&P Supermarket Heiress
Peter L. Skolnik Peter L. Skolnik ... Himself - Attorney (as Peter Skolnik)
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Storyline

A documentary on children of the insanely rich. Directed by one of their own, Johnson & Johnson heir, Jamie Johnson.

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Genres:

Documentary

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 January 2003 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Luke Weil claimed he was tricked into appearing on camera and filed a lawsuit in 2002 trying to prevent this film from seeking distribution, but a New York state Supreme Court justice ruled in favor of director Jamie Johnson. See more »

Quotes

Luke Weil: Did you ever have an encounter that rubs you the wrong way? It's whoever pisses you off. And I'm up at boarding school. And this kid's from like some shit town in Connecticut. You know, I don't know. I can just say, fuck you, I'm from New York. I can buy your family, piss off. And this is petty, and this is weak. And this is very underhanded, but it's so easy, you know.
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User Reviews

 
Impressive Effort
21 November 2004 | by fineanimalSee all my reviews

If you lean toward the extreme beliefs that the super-rich are either inherently shallow and evil, or they earned their wealth fair and square precisely because they are the greatest among us, your opinion of this film is already pre-determined, and you should probably not waste your time watching it even though the subjects under consideration only inherited their wealth.

For thoughtful people, however, I cannot recommend this film highly enough. Jamie Johnson deserves so much credit for being a young man of privilege who dares to think about what his good fortune really means, much like the rest of humanity is forced to think daily about what their poverty and debt really means. Frankly, I never would have expected such an even-handed treatment of the subject from "one of them".

The biggest barrier to learning how the super-rich really think is access. To gain access you must either be one of them, which usually precludes talking about money publicly, or you must be a member of the mainstream media, which only offers favorably-edited, politically-correct glimpses of reality (otherwise the media too would lose their access). Johnson has produced an essential work here by bridging the gap and allowing the rest of the world to witness, largely unedited, the way in which these extremely wealthy young people view their own fortunes. I can only hope the day will come when older generations among the super-rich will agree to be similarly interviewed, although I suspect we will all be deeply saddened by what they have to say.

Just like on skid row, a few of the young people here (especially Johnson himself) seem above average in terms of humanity, most of them are just average, and the remaining few seem to be useless wastes of human flesh that would bring shame to any family, rich or poor. That's pretty much the same bell curve you'll find in any other social strata of society, proving once again that money is ultimately irrelevant except to those who are obsessed by it.

Much has been written here about Luke Weill's contribution to the film, which I found simply embarrassing to watch. If he is the ambassador of our species when the gray aliens finally land, I won't even argue with their decision to wipe humanity off the face of the earth without a trial. He makes a great case that there is nothing wrong with extraordinary wealth, but everything wrong with inherited wealth. Most important, Weill proves that whether you are rich or poor, the quality of the person become is your own choice. I've seen little whiners like that come from plenty of poor families, so his disturbing behavior has nothing to do with his family's wealth. The gene pool in the Hamptons seems as muddy as it is everywhere else in the world.

But it is Juliet Hartford who deserves the contempt award here for her answer to the question of what she'd do with a million dollars cash. Laughing at the homeless? I've worked with the homeless for years, and most of them are far superior in character and personality to Ms. Hartford (and from what I can tell, the homeless are more talented as well). Thank God she is locked in her own zoo, surrounded only by her own kind. I hate to think of how much damage a woman like this could cause in the real world, where real people live.

Surprisingly, Ivanka Trump comes across as fairly down-to-earth. Ordinarily I would argue with a billionaire's decision to use that money to simply build more ugly concrete and steel, when she has so much potential to build a better world instead. But at least she justifies her ambitions with a genuine interest in real estate development ("it's in our blood"). That's better than nothing.

The only "sympathy" I can feel for these kids is the fact that they have been deprived of reality all their lives, and I don't see any way they'll ever experience that. They are so terrified of dating outside their own circles despite the incredibly boring people they have to choose from, I can't see them ever making a truly meaningful connection with the masses that define their own species. Concepts such as honor, sacrifice, and simplicity seem to be completely foreign to them. Their parents really stole a lot from them, and it's a shame they don't recognize this and forsake their wealth for a better life. After all, they can always earn their own fortune later--it'd be as easy for them as it is for the rest of us, right?


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