Kajillionaire, or maybe grifter is better

Gina Rodriguez and Evan Rachel Wood in Kajillionaire

Kajillionaire stars Evan Rachel Wood as the lonely, socially inept daughter in an offbeat and unusual family of grifters. Miranda July wrote and directed this comedy. It’s available for rent on Prime Video and VOD.

Kajillionaire starts by showing us the daily lives of a bizarre family of small time thieves. They survive on a series of small cons, such as stealing the contents of the post office box next to theirs.

And three times on Wednesday

They live in an empty office attached to a bubble factory. The place should be condemned. Each day they must capture the bubbles that flood the space and take them to a drain. For this peculiar living area, the bubble factory owner wants $500 a month. They haven’t paid in 3 months.

Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger, and Evan Rachel Wood in Kajillionaire

The parents Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa (Debra Winger) have mental health issues. They agree that the way they survive is better than what anyone who works to be a kajillionaire has. Their daughter Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) knows nothing else and lives the same way they do. They split everything 3 ways and always have.

Old Dolio plays songs about loneliness on her phone. She dresses in oversized layers and walks with slumped shoulders. It doesn’t look like she’s ever had a haircut. Evan Rachel Wood cast her voice into a lower register for the role. It’s a perfect voice for the emotionally stunted Old Dolio who has never been touched or loved by anyone, including her parents.

One of many contests they enter provides them with plane tickets to New York. They decide to fly to New York and back so they can get enough money for their back rent in a scheme to claim insurance money for lost luggage.

Gina Rodriguez in Kajillionaire

On the plane ride home, they meet Melanie (Gina Rodriguez). She decides to help them with a heist.

Evan Rachel Wood in Kajillionaire

The real attraction for Melanie is Old Dolio. The way Gina Rodriguez looks at Evan Rachel Wood burns with sexual interest. Gina Rodriguez sure never looked at any of her boyfriends on Jane the Virgin that way. Old Dolio doesn’t understand what Melanie makes her feel. She tells Melanie to wear more clothes and accuses her of trying to “rile” her up.

The scam with Melanie means going into the homes of customers from the eyeglass place where Melanie works. While Melanie delivers eyeglasses, the rest of them roam the house and steal things. Checkbooks are the best prize.

In a strange and bizarre use of foreshadowing, they go into the home of a dying man. He wants to hear the sounds of family life in the house. They pretend to be a happy family. They make conversation, play the piano, pretend to eat, talk about the ball game on TV. They look and sound exactly like a caring, close family.

Then there’s a twist in the plot and the final act plays out. There are surprises and unexpected twists. There’s a potential sexual awakening for Old Dolio – finally – at age 26.

We’re left wondering if the quirky family unit we’ve been watching knows how to be a loving family or if it’s all just an act. There are clues to the answer.

There is nothing ordinary about this film. Everything is unexpected. The characters are unique, the plot is unique. When it ends, you’re left feeling like you’ve witnessed something wildly imaginative.

The four principal cast are all terrific. There are some small supporting parts that are good – particularly from Da’Vine Joy Randolph.

To appreciate the good in this film, you have to be willing to live with the weird. Scenes in pitch dark bathrooms, massages that don’t involve touch, watches synchronized to the release of bubbles, men who feel entitled to sex (oh, wait, that last one wasn’t unusual).

Kajillionarie poster

Take a look at the trailer.

Have you seen Kajillionaire? What did you think of it?

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

Comments are appreciated!