McCoy on Movies: Kajillionaire

McCoy on Movies: Kajillionaire

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Two con artists have spent 26 years training their only daughter to swindle, scam and steal at every turn. Read on to see if this far-out flick conned our movie critic into a good review.


“Now, just remember, if anyone asks, we went grocery shopping BEFORE it was mandated you had to wear a mask in public!” (Gina Rodriguez) and Old Dolio Dyne (Evan Rachel Wood) go out for a non-grifting grocery trip in a scene from writer/director Miranda July’s KAJILLIONAIRE. Credit: Matt Kennedy / Focus Features © Focus Features. All rights reserved.


DIRECTOR: Miranda July
KEY CAST MEMBERS: Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger

 Old Dolio Dyne (Evan Rachel Wood) is a 26 year-old Los Angeles resident. Her home, however, is unconventional as it is an office space next to some sort of industrial park where a pink liquid oozes into the room. Joining her in this most unconventional of living spaces are her parents Theresa (Debra Winger) and Robert (Richard Jenkins), grifters by trade who are always on the lookout for their next scheme or heist. It’s not a good life, but it’s the only one Old Dolio knows.

Then Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) comes into the picture. 

Meeting her by chance on a flight as part of their latest scheme, Melanie seems excited at the prospect of getting into a new line of work and comes up with a plan of her own to pull off a new heist. But, as Melanie’s love of life – and other circumstances – start to open up her mind to other aspects of the human experience, Old Dolio starts to question her current existence and what could lie ahead in the future.

Who knows – becoming rich in her own spirit might be the most rewarding prize of all.

THE REVIEW: “Quirky.” “Abstract.” “Weird.” 

Sometimes you watch a film and appreciate it for what it is, even if it’s not something you really enjoyed, so to speak, yourself. In the case of Kajillionaire, you likely will find yourself wrestling with that same emotion due to the committed performance of Wood against a story that essentially can be viewed in one of two ways: (1) This is a (insert one of the three adjectives above) story about broken people and someone trying to find what many of us inherently do (or at least, believe we should enjoy) or (2) This is a (insert one of the three adjectives above) that is just (insert one of the other two remaining adjectives above). 

Earlier this month, Wood gave a rather revealing interview to The New York Times in which it was revealed she uses many of her roles to heal herself from past trauma. That in turn should help explain her (1) connection to Old Dolio and (2) portrayal of the character, a woman who has never felt any real (or, if you prefer, “normal”) emotions to or from anyone, including her parents. She is essentially – like many of the personalities on her HBO series Westworld – a near-robotic humanoid life form who knows her role and her function in the functioning disfunction that is her family’s business. You get to watch a young person (Wood may be 33, but she pulls off 26 with a way that makes her character feel even younger) coming to grips with her concept of the world around her and trying to deal with deprogramming herself in the process. Whereas as Rodriguez gets to play an upbeat, bouncy young woman who seems very eager to get involved in something she sees as exciting, Wood’s character is a solitary, introverted one growing desperate to escape her reality. 
If you enjoy the films of Wes Anderson, you’ll likely like Kajillionaire, which are the first type of things that come to mind in terms of the humor (which is SPARSE). If you simply enjoy a deep dive into a character (even if the others aren’t characters aren’t explored enough as you’d hope), you’ll probably enjoy Kajillionaire.
Then again, if watching people who are essentially without redeeming qualities do nothing to change your opinion of them over the course of 100 minutes, are weird seemingly for the sake of it and/or are the type of people you’d see in Walmart, report to an employee and then leave, this is not the movie for you. What will find intriguingly unconventional, others will find annoying. Whereas some will be drawn to Wood’s performance of a shy, sheltered introvert, others will see the weirdo in their high school class they one day figured would end up on the local news for less than stellar reasons. If you start to watch the movie, you’ll likely watch it to the end to see what will happen, only to probably be either elated or deflated by what happens. 
In much the same fashion that very few are destined to become millionaires and billionaires, Kajillionaire is likely only for the select few. But those select few will really enjoy it no matter what the rest of us see.







Tabari McCoy
Columnist - Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. An award-winning stand-up comedian who also works as the public relations director at Cincinnati Museum Center, Tabari McCoy is the creator of McCoy on Movies, a blog about movies for film fans. The blog is written by someone who also likes movies that is smart enough to know his opinion isn't always the right one but is willing to express that opinion in public. McCoy also used to review movies for his college paper and a major metropolitan publication, so that helps add to his "street cred." Contact him at You can also check out more of his work on his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy.