“Kajillionaire” is one of 2020’s toughest movies to like. There’s so much that writer/director Miranda July does to prevent us from believing this story and attaching ourselves to the characters.
The film’s only authentic feature is that it’s centered around grifters: scam artists who secretly steal in order to provide for themselves while taking advantage of others in the ugliest ways. In this case, it’s mom Theresa (Debra Winger), dopey dad Robert (Richard Jenkins) and daughter Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood).
Theresa and Robert are hippie-esque, anti-establishment oddballs, who don’t treat Old Dolio traditionally… or respectfully. They live in a vacant office where giant pink foam floats down the walls on a regular basis. They cheat and steal to make money and win prizes in the slimiest ways. When an opportunity for a big score presents itself, their “routine” is shaken-up when Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) takes an interest in what they do.
Subtlety is a foreign concept with “Kajillionaire”. Every story element, every idea, every performance, every “dramatic” subplot, is incredibly forced and relentless. If July had dialed things down — a lot — she may have been able to deliver a reasonably entertaining, thought-provoking film.
Instead, we trod along with this foursome as they make their way in and out of the most bizarre and uncomfortable predicaments. Each character is annoying in his/her own special way. Rachel Wood does deserve credit for convincingly playing down in age.
I was able to tolerate “Kajillionaire”… until I simply couldn’t any longer. The film goes completely off the rails with a ridiculous scene that kicks-off the final act, followed by about five or six more. The staging, the dialogue, the music choices — it’s all out of whack.
I can’t make you a kajillionaire. But I can save you a few bucks by recommending you don’t invest in this bomb.