In Brief: I didn’t like this one. Not for a dollar. Not for a thousand dollars. Not for a million dollars. Not for a billion dollars. And not for a kajillion dollars.
Some movies you just don’t like. We all have that experience. Everyone raves about a film. We see it. Blah. Sometimes you wonder if you saw the same movie everyone else saw or was it a different version.
That’s Kajillionaire for me. It just didn’t work.
A kajillionaire — I suppose — is someone with buckets of money and little or no wants. I’m not sure what separates a kajillionaire from a billionaire or a millionaire. After seeing Miranda July’s movie, I’m not only not sure but I don’t really care that I’m not sure.
Buckets of money is what the four characters in July’s film are after. Only they take what they think is the easy way to get there. It’s scamming, stealing, swindling or anything else that will bring in a buck or two. They’re always looking for an angle to steal what they can from the unsuspecting.
Three of the four are Robert, Theresa and Old Dolio. They are dad, mom and their 20-something daughter. Number four is Melanie. She’s a woman the trio meet on an airplane when they’re pulling off a luggage scam.
Melanie finds their lives exciting and wants to rip off some of her elderly clients and break into the game of scamming for fun and profit.
In the case of Melanie and the trio, it may be sometimes profitable — and may also be billed as a comedy — but it’s not fun. Not even close. July’s movie is supposed to be a comedy. Aren’t comedies supposed to be funny? For a film being defined as one, other than a sad laugh once in awhile, this one has very few of them.
I can think of a kajillion reasons not to like the movie but the worst part of Kajillionaire is how July wastes some outstanding talent. Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld) stars as Old Dolio. Yes, it’s an odd name for a daughter. All that gets explained in the story. It goes to the heart of what’s wrong between parents and daughter.
And maybe even the heart of what’s wrong with the movie.
Wood is an incredible actress and has never given a bad performance. She doesn’t here but — at the same time — she does. Lowering her voice to an unintelligible, husky growl, Wood defines her character as a young woman stuck with parents that — other than what she does for them — don’t love her, care about her or want her in their life.
They keep her because they have to keep her. She’s the brains of the operation and the way they find their next prey.
What you can understand of the lines Wood delivers, you can tell it is a very good performance. The puzzle is the rest of the movie. It has nowhere positive to go.
Actually, it has nowhere negative to go either.
Also wasted are the always incredible Oscar and Golden Globe nominee, Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water, The Visitor), four time Golden Globe nominee and Oscar nominee, Debra Winter and Gina Rodriguez who wowed us in Miss Bala and Jane the Virgin.
They’re all very good but to what end?
July (Me and You and Everyone We Know, Center of the World) fails to connect you to these characters. They’re not people you can relate to or come close to liking. You do end up feeling somewhat sorry for Old Dolio. You can tell she’s somewhat autistic but she’s such a milquetoast that it’s hard to care.
July is an art house favorite. Critics love her work. I’ve liked a lot of it but just didn’t like this one. I’m in the minority but — like I alluded to early in this review — I’m wondering if I saw the same movie as everyone else.
Director: Miranda July
Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger, Gina Rodriguez
I can think of a kajillion reasons not to see Kajillionaire but the few I listed in the review says why I didn’t care for the movie. Give Kajillionaire a 2 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
Kajillionaire can be seen in actual theaters around the Portland area and other parts of Oregon but not at any theaters in Portland.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.