In Detroit, a lonely pop culture geek marries a call girl, steals cocaine from her pimp, and tries to sell it in Hollywood. Meanwhile, the owners of the cocaine, the Mob, track them down in an attempt to reclaim it.
Brian Kessler, a journalist researching serial killers, and his photographer girlfriend Carrie set out on a cross-country tour of the sites of the killings. Sharing the ride and their expenses are Early Grayce, a paroled white trash criminal, and his girlfriend Adele. As the trip progresses, Early begins to appear more and more unstable, and Brian and Carrie begin to fear that they may have a real-life killer in the back seat of their car.Written by
Scott Renshaw <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Early in the movie, when Carrie (Michelle Forbes) and Brian (David Duchovny) first see Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) and Adele Corners (Juliette Lewis), Carrie is heard complaining to Brian, "They look like a couple Okies." Brad Pitt was born in Oklahoma. An "Okie" is someone from Oklahoma. In the 1930s it became a term of disparagement referring to the large number of very poor migrants from Oklahoma, and nearby states, who fled the poverty of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression by moving to California, mostly by automobile along U.S. Route 66. The four main characters drive through the Southwest U.S. generally following the path of the now decommissioned Route 66. See more »
Early Grace drinks a beer during his parole officers visit, parolees are prohibited from imbibing or using narcotics in Georgia and most US states without modification of their parole terms by the court or their parole officer. See more »
Early seemed harmless. Primitive, but harmless. Of course, the fact of the matter was that he'd killed his landlord less than an hour before we met him. He was even wearing the guy's ring. Who knows what he did with the finger.
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It's a road movie, with a killer on-board. Brian Kessler (David Duchovny), a sophisticated, urbane writer, wants to conduct field research on American serial killers. But, neither he, nor his girlfriend, Carrie (Michelle Forbes), has the money for a cross-country tour of murder sites, so they advertise for someone to share travel expenses. Who they end up with is a young couple, Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) and his girlfriend, Adele (Juliette Lewis), two better examples of "poor white trash" you will never find in all of cinema.
Indeed, Early and Adele are what make this film so entertaining, as they babble, cackle, confide, muse, speculate, drool, and otherwise behave in ways I haven't seen since reruns of "The Beverly Hillbillies". Early's idea of California: "People think faster out there, on account of all that warm weather; cold weather makes people stupid". That's enough to convince Adele: "I guess that explains why there are so many stupid people around here". To which Early responds proudly: "It sure does". Early continues to instruct Adele about California: "You never have to buy no fruit, on account it's all on the trees ... and they ain't got no speed limits, and I hear your first month's rent is free, state law".
But poor Early has some, well, mental problems, which become ever more obvious to Brian and Carrie as the four travelers proceed west across the U.S. As they enter the desert Southwest, with its beautifully stark landscape, "Kalifornia" starts to look more and more like "The Hitcher" (1986), and Early starts to act more and more like John Ryder, everyone's maniacal hitchhiker, whose terror seemed so unstoppable.
In "Kalifornia", the acting is uneven. Duchovny's performance is flat. Brad Pitt is surprisingly effective, despite his overacting at times. Michelle Forbes is great as the avant-garde, photographic artist. But my choice for best performance goes to Juliette Lewis. With her nasal voice and heavy-duty Southern accent, she is stunning, as the naive, highly animated, child-like Adele.
Toward the end, the film takes on a Twilight Zone feel to it, as our travelers enter a Nevada nuclear test site with a dilapidated old house full of test mannequins. The plot dissolves rather messily into unnecessary and preposterous violence, an ending that was somewhat disappointing.
Overall, however, "Kalifornia" is an entertaining film, thanks to a clever concept, great scenery, especially in the second half, good cinematography, great dialogue, and that wonderful performance by Juliette Lewis.
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