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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful.
By Molly McGee
What would you do if you had an extra hundred million dollars?
Would you provide food for the needy? How about helping save endangered species? Maybe you could fund research that might find the cure for cancer.
The billionaire family in this documentary decided to build the largest home in America, just for their own nuclear family.
This is a story of the silly rich. At first, the absurdity is hard to believe. David and Jacqueline Siegel feel they are very important, because- well, apparently because they have money. When the recession hits it hits hard and their half finished dream house, modeled after Versailles, turns out to be just a dream after all. But who can they find in the post-bubble economy who can afford to buy their $100 million dollar home?
The whole list of financial mistakes is here. The husband is a time-share king who built too fast on borrowed money. When everything bottoms out, those creditors come knocking. More mistakes are revealed. For instance, the man took out a mortgage on his current 26,000 sq. ft. home that he paid cash for and owned free and clear, only to put that money back into his business. There was no "cushion" and no plan in case anything went wrong. Because nothing was supposed to go wrong.
The new money saving regimen hits his wife Jackie hardest. She simply doesn't know how. She's a spender, through and through. It was easy to have seven kids when you have a houseful of servants to care for them. And when you're used to throwing lavish parties with a full complement of wait staff it can be hard to learn to cut back.
This is an interesting twist on the subprime mortgage bubble story and shows how big business people can get themselves over their heads by spending money they don't really have.
Watching this for the second time, different things stand out for me. Like the fact that the kids seem positively bored opening their Christmas gifts and seem to be getting repeats of things they already have.
like the fact Jackie seems to buy three of everything- three Operation games, three of the exact same hoodie.
like the contemptible attitude Siegel's grown son seems to have toward the people who put their hard earned money into his father's business, allowing him to amass a great fortune.
Like Jackie buying a new bike for her son, just to see it added to the fleet of bicycles already in the garage.
And the fact that everyone appears to be doing their own thing in different rooms of their large house, totally oblivious to the others.
I'd suggest watching this more than once. It's hard to catch everything the first time around.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful.
♛ People Are Weird ♕
By Frosty Cold One
Do people really let their dogs crap all over inside of the house? That's just astonishing to me. At one point, one of the sons steps in it and his mom (the Queen) crinkles her nose and exclaims something along the lines of "Did you step in caca? I hate it when that happens." ????? It makes me wonder if Paris Hilton's dogs have the same liberty. I actually don't know the first thing about dog ownership, but I'm guessing that getting your animals to avoid casual excretion on rugs would be somewhere near the top of the list. Perhaps the Queen's servants had traditionally let the dogs outside to do their business, and when they were laid off, the Queen and her family couldn't be bothered to let the dogs out?
Anyway, I recently had a movie day where I watched 3 documentaries about capitalism:
 Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (the dark underbelly),
 Silicon Valley American Experience (a silver lining of the Cold War), and
 The Queen of Versailles, or TQOV (the sheer insanity).
Learning about Enron fills one with anger and despair; learning about the birth of Silicon Valley fills one with awe and perhaps inspiration; TQOV simply boggles the mind.
While TQOV gives you plenty of ammunition to hate the Queen, it was her ignorance (obliviousness) that I hated rather than the person. It's interesting to me that she had the intelligence to become an engineer, yet promptly threw that away to become a gold digger (and by that I don't mean someone toiling away at hard labor in a gold mine). The paradox: while cruelty seems not to be part of her nature, her lifestyle offsets any virtues she may have. Her indifference to anything outside of her fantasy world is disturbing, since it is incumbent (in this day and age) on someone with that much wealth to at least understand the world they take from. Regardless, with this Queen we don't get the impression of a "Let them eat cake" attitude; perhaps she was on her best behavior when the camera was rolling?
The Filipinos who remain with the family to the bitter end seem to be indentured servants (loving the children they raised, how could they walk away?)
In sum: TQOV shows us the true face of capitalism. And it isn't pretty.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful. See all 434 customer reviews...
Chaotic and out of control people
By Jo Flowers
What I saw was chaos, people out of control when they were rich and when they were poor. There were no rules, no constraints and I'm talkiing about everything. No constraints on spending money, no rules for acceptable household behavior for the children, no potty training their dogs (the scenes of all the dog poop on the floor was disgusting). Although the individuals seemed like nice enough people (they weren't mean or evil and seemed to be able to love, at east the wife), they were so totally self indugent. She always wanted a bowling alley so they were going to put one in, he wanted this in the house, she wanted that.... no constraints, out of control spending without a thought but for the next humongous thing they couldn't live without. How many painting were there of themselves? Outside of being totally narcissistic, what's the point of having so many?
And of course, there is the total idiocy of wanting a 90,000 sf house in light of all the poverty in the world. And why have it? David said, because he could. That's not a house, that's not a home, no one can actually live in 90,000 sf or even half that. That's solely to show the world how much money you have.
The wife was a somewhat sympathetic character, at least she didn't bemoan their new lack of money and seemed to take it in stride (although she was incapable of really cutting down). She seemed to really care for her husband, but then she was soooo superficial also. Not only did she have her boobs enlarged to balloon size, but she showed them off at inappropriate times. And then there was her life long friend who was going to lose her house and she sent her $5,000 (but she lost it anyway). $5,000? She has spent more for shoes or a purse. Why didn't she send her more money? It's her best friend! Incomprehensible, unless she is not empathetic to the needs of others.)
Anyway, despite not understanding the lifestyle of the Siegels, the film was done expertly and deserves the 5 stars I gave it. I was enraptured thoroughly.