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Review: Family of con artists find rock bottom in fabulous 'Kajillionaire'

Evan Rachel Wood and Richard Jenkins star in the latest from the wildly original Miranda July

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Miranda July lives in her own world, and it's a lovely place to visit. 

Take "Kajillionaire," the weird and wonderful comic-drama about a family of low-level scammers who live in the office of a bubble factory and take on a new grifter, which leads to lessons about the true meaning of love and commitment. Oh you know, just another one of those stories. 

Gina Rodriguez and Evan Rachel Wood in "Kajillionaire."

Writer-director July, the fantasist who also made 2005's wildly unique "Me and You and Everyone We Know" and 2011's "The Future," tells her story like she's never seen another movie before. There are no signposts here, no set formula she's following, and "Kajillionaire" is a wholly original piece of storytelling that occupies its own space. And it's a delight. 

Evan Rachel Wood plays Old Dolio, the daughter of con artist parents Robert (Richard Jenkins, fabulous) and Theresa (Debra Winger), who are perpetually behind in their rent payments at the office of the aforementioned bubble factory, where suds are always seeping in through ceiling onto the walls.

On a plane to New York to commit a high-risk piece of travel insurance fraud, they meet Melanie ("Jane the Virgin's" Gina Rodriguez, also remarkable), whom they recruit to join their bottom-feeding hustle. This leads to resentment with Old Dolio, and ultimately a revelation about the nature of her parents, and herself. 

To say "Kajillionaire" marches to the beat of its own drum is reductive, as July deserves better than to be described in the context of clichés. Watching her work is like being knocked off your axis and listening to the voice of a true original. "Kajillionaire" is a rich piece of storytelling, and it feels like a kajillion bucks. 



Rated R: for some sexual references/language

Running time: 106 minutes

In theaters Friday, on demand Oct. 16