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Kajillionaire


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NEW YORK (CNS) -- Essentially a lesbian love story, "Kajillionaire" (Focus) is also a barren comedy mostly populated by unsympathetic characters whose eccentricities are more obnoxious than endearing and resting on underlying ideas about life and death that cannot be harmonized with revealed truth.

As such, it's impoverished rather than outrageously wealthy.

Inveterate petty thieves Theresa (Debra Winger) and Robert Dyne (Richard Jenkins) have raised their 26-year-old daughter, Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood), to be their partner in crime. They also have deprived her of anything resembling affection so that she has grown up withdrawn, stiff and emotionally repressed.

However, Old Dolio -- whose parents characteristically named her for an acquaintance they hoped would leave them money as a result -- finds her drab world transformed when the clan crosses paths with vibrant Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) and she joins in their criminal enterprises. As the quartet targets lonely senior citizens, Old Dolio and Melanie fall for each other, which becomes a source of liberation for the former.

The original trio's ill-gotten gains are initially so random and essentially worthless as to serve as a source of humor. Yet, there's something unsavory in the way writer-director Miranda July's script shrugs off their later purloining of funds from vulnerable retirees. Melanie objects to this scheme at first, but rapidly gives way and aids in it.

Faith, moreover, is as absent from Old Dolio's world as any sense of morality. When an airplane on which the Dynes are traveling runs into turbulence and Theresa begins to pray, this is depicted as a comic absurdity. Along the same lines, when Old Dolio exclaims "God bless you" in the midst of a manic episode, it's portrayed as an empty and incongruous sentiment.

Additionally, Old Dolio envisions the afterlife as an endless state of numbness experienced in a dark void. Those who, unlike herself, love life on earth and have something to lose will, she believes, find this condition torturous.

The relationship between Melanie and Old Dolio is handled discreetly. Until a prolonged smooch in the final scene, it mostly consists of sensual hints at their mutual feelings. But their bond is not only portrayed positively, it's thoroughly romanticized and represents the linchpin of Old Dolio's transformation and awakening -- the goal toward which the whole plot moves.

The film contains beliefs incompatible with Christianity, a frivolous treatment of crime, a benign view of homosexual relationships, brief irreverent humor, upper female nudity in a nonsexual context, a same-sex kiss, a couple of mild oaths and a handful of rough and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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CAPSULE REVIEW

"Kajillionaire" (Focus)

Barren comedy about the emotionally repressed 26-year-old daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) of two inveterate petty thieves (Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins) who finds her drab world transformed when a vibrant stranger (Gina Rodriguez) joins up with the family. As the quartet targets lonely senior citizens, the two women fall for each other, their romance becoming a source of liberation for Wood's character. The eccentricities of the clan at the heart of writer-director Miranda July's film are obnoxious rather than endearing and the worldview underlying their story is devoid of faith and explicitly rejects any hope of an afterlife worth experiencing. Beliefs incompatible with Christianity, a frivolous treatment of crime, a benign view of homosexual relationships, brief irreverent humor, upper female nudity in a nonsexual context, a same-sex kiss, a couple of mild oaths, a handful of rough and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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CLASSIFICATION

"Kajillionaire" (Focus) -- Catholic News Service classification, O -- morally offensive. Motion Picture Association rating, R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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