[Screen It]


(2020) (Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins) (R)

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Dramedy: A young woman joins a family of grifters who con and steal from others.

Robert (RICHARD JENKINS) and Theresa Dyne (DEBRA WINGER) are lifelong grifters who make a living conning and stealing from others. But they aren't that good at it and thus repeatedly try to avoid their landlord over their long-overdue rent.

They've even had their now 26-year-old daughter, the oddly named Old Dolio (EVAN RACHEL WOOD), in on their cons since she was little. Their latest ploy is to book roundtrip airline tickets with travel insurance and then pretend that Old Dolio's luggage never arrived back home.

Not the brightest mind, Robert informs the passenger seated next to him on the plane, Melanie (GINA RODRIGUEZ), of their plan and she immediately wants in on that and later action. But with Robert and Theresa having never given Old Dolio anything resembling a normal childhood or any sort of love, that begins to wear on her, prompting Melanie to want to take care of her...and more.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10

A lot of people aren't good with numbers -- math usually not being the favorite subject in school for most -- and have a hard enough time balancing their checkbook and doing their taxes, let alone fully comprehending the magnitude of big numbers.

For instance, it usually blows people's minds when I tell them how things stack up when you compare thousands, to millions, to billions, to trillions (usually in the context of the growing federal debt of the U.S.).

For instance, 1,000 seconds is the equivalent of 16.6 minutes. A million seconds equals 11.5 days. A billion seconds comes to 31.7 years and a trillion finishes off the comparison clocking in 31,709 years. I don't even want to know how a kajillion seconds stacks up, but considering how it was the go-to number when we were kids to top anyone touting a measly trillion, being a kajillionaire must be something.

Despite that being the title of writer/director Miranda July's latest film, the three-person family in her dramedy aren't anywhere close to that status. Heck, they're hundredaires, if that. But dad Robert (Richard Jenkins), mom Theresa (an unrecognizable Debra Winger), and their 26-year-old daughter, the oddly named Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood), are always hustling for money and dreaming of obtaining that titular status, even if they'd likely fail the above number comparisons.

When we first meet them in this decidedly quirky offering, Old Dolio is doing some awkward gymnastics moves outside a Los Angeles post office -- presumably to avoid detection of cameras, although her movements would certainly garner attention -- before entering, reaching through a post office box hole and trying to grab whatever she can from adjacent boxes.

They're in need of money to pay their long-overdue rent on the industrial office space they call home and where suds from a nearby business ooze into and flow down their walls like clockwork. Assuring their easy to cry landlord (who runs the business next door responsible for the daily suds invasion) that they'll get the money, they come up with a scheme to defraud a travel insurance policy over "lost" airline luggage.

Their luck changes on the plane, however, when they end up seated next to a young optician's assistant, Melanie (a charismatic Gina Rodriguez), who ends up hearing of the plan from the blabbermouth dad and wants in on the action. Seeking out her eye shop's older clients, they plot to take advantage of those folks' generosity or feeble state of mind and body, and steal, forge, and cash-out their bank checks.

Things come to a head, however, when the socially maladjusted Old Dolio realizes they're treating the newcomer more like a daughter than they ever did for her. And with Melanie having a romantic eye for that young woman, it's uncertain how things will play out.

For those who like quirky offerings, this will probably fit the bill to one degree or another. The performances are good across the board, the writing is clever, and the off-beat vibe the film gives off is a welcome respite from the sort of cookie-cutter formulaic movies much of Hollywood puts out nowadays.

That said, I wasn't blown away by any part of the flick -- although I could watch Rodriguez read the phone book any day -- but it's amusing and entertaining enough to earn a passing grade. While it won't be receiving a score befitting its title, "Kajillionaire" rates as a 6 out of 10.

Reviewed September 10, 2020 / Posted September 25, 2020

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