KAJILLIONAIRE gave me (an my wife) a kajillion headaches. Not because it was confusing but it was a slog and a half (considering the 1 hr and 47 minute run time) to get through. A quirky film just for the sake of being quirky, which made it overwhelmingly quirky and unbearable. And a really annoying and bizarre performance with an annoyingly bizarre low tone of voice by Even Rachel Wood. There are only really two scenes of actual levity and earnestness in the film, one that doesn’t happen until the last 10 minutes of the movie, and one in the middle that lasts only about 10 seconds before it goes back to being monotonous. This comes out in theaters today (only really Alamo Drafthouse and other independent theaters), and then streaming VOD in about a month, and I am here to tell you to save your fucking money and your fucking time no matter how it’s available to watch to you (even if free). I won a free digital 72 hour screening from Focus Features and decided just to get it out of the way last night. This is supposed to be a comedy (really a dramedy) yet neither my wife nor I laughed once. And when I put on a 2005 comedy that definitely couldn’t be made today (Waiting) and laughed more in the first minute than the atrocity to cinema I just watched…then something is truly wrong. You may go on Rotten Tomatoes and see the critic score to this is in the low 90s, which is a really good score, but I no longer ever trust Rotten Tomatoes, because I think most critics are high off of being able to stay home and avoid COVID-19, so they are giving anything a good review based on that bias.
And you may be saying, “Zach, maybe you just don’t like quirky movies?” Not true, I’m going to review another film later today that just came to Hulu but was released earlier in the year called Babyteeth, where its quirky-ness was in contribution to the story and wasn’t just there to be there. It’s all about context people. Me, movies, and context. If you haven’t gotten that by now with all of my reviews that I write then I don’t know what to tell you. I even warn you whenever I throw context and my brain out the window and just enjoyed what I was watching, so I can’t be any more blunt with you than I usually am. To put this all in another way you’ll understand, Kajillionaire sucked to me. Per IMDB, it describes the movie as: “A woman’s life is turned upside down when her criminal parents invite an outsider to join them on a major heist they’re planning.” This whole family is filled with terrible, terrible con people. Terrible not jut morally, but that they also execute all of these “cons” terribly. What was really offensive about this film to me isn’t just its fake, unearned quirky-ness, it’s also it feels like a cheap knock off of a very good international film that came out a couple of years ago called Shoplifters. That movie even got nominated for an Academy Award. I’ll scoff if this does and protest. Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger are completely wasted as Evan Rachel Wood’s (who is the main protagonist by the way) parents, and they are completely unlikable characters from the get go. Evan Rachel Wood is supposed to be likable but her bizarre bat shit performance made her extremely unlikable to me.
The actress that sort of saves this from being a complete clusterfuck (even though this film right now is in my top 20 worst of the year list) is Gina Rodriguez. She plays the stranger in IMDB’s description of the film above. Her quirky-ness in this film almost works, and she saves a little bit of the movie by being the focus of the two only earnest moments in the movie (These moments are technically spoilers, but you’ll know them when you see them). She is the only one unscathed in this production. I have never seen writer/director Miranda July’s other “quirky” movies or short films, and this movie definitely will not have me search any of them out, any time soon. I mean, this film is just weird to be weird without any context. They live in a cheap little place that overflows with bubbles (they clean this place constantly that’s why the rent is so cheap) from the ceiling because it’s an attachment to a bubble factory called Bubble, Inc. No explanation to what they do other than make bubbles apparently. I understand the films message about family and human attachment, it just went about it in a very awkward, non pleasing, and off putting way. It is very slow pace, with a major heist that in all honesty didn’t make a lick of sense to me. If you watch this movie and end up enjoying it like the critics did, I won’t hark on you. Clearly this movie just wasn’t meant for me. I didn’t connect with it on any emotional level, and the only emotion I shed during it were the kajillion tears of joy that I wept once the movie finally got to the end credits.