From a young age, Old Dolio was treated by her parents as an asset. Another member of the family that would be made useful. If you can’t lie, cheat and steal, what’s your purpose? Not much. At least, not according to Old Dolio’s parents, Robert and Theresa.
But that’s just them. That’s how it’s always been. Sure, they live in a dingy old office front where soapy water drips down the ceiling every day at the same time. But that’s normal. Right? Well, it’s the only “normal” Old Dolio has ever known.
Until one day, when they’re tight on rent, Old Dolio suggests a plan: Take a flight to New York, pretend we don’t know each other, steal my baggage and collect traveler’s insurance for the loss.
More than $1,500. The same amount they need to pay rent.
The plan goes smoothly. Until Old Dolio’s parents sit next to a pretty woman named Melanie who, for some unknown reason, becomes the woman with whom they share all their secrets.
Perhaps this Melanie can help them with their heist. Perhaps this Melanie could be like the daughter they always wanted.
And, perhaps, Old Dolio has just about had enough.
Melanie sticks up for Old Dolio and saves her from her parents. She gives her the love, affirmation and affection Old Dolia craved as a child. As a result, this teaches Old Dolio to let others in and to stand against her dysfunctional, manipulative parents.
Old Dolio attends a parenting class where the class leader recognizes she’s in need of human connection. She speaks kindly to her, pretends to brush her hair (as you would a child) and helps her to uncover hidden emotions.
A dying man talks to Old Dolio about how he loves his children.
Old Dolio thinks she’s dead after an earth tremor. When she finds out she’s not, she runs to the nearest person she finds, clasps that person’s hand and exclaims, “God bless you!.” The man assures her that he is not religious. Neither is she, Old Dolio says.
It’s clear that Old Dolio’s beliefs about life have been taught to her by her parents. They taught her to disassociate and avoid being “hooked” to life, as it’s void of all true meaning.
Old Dolio’s mother silently prays on a plane during turbulence.
Old Dolio’s father carefully watches Melanie throughout the film. Once, he is astounded at a man flirting with Melanie and staring at her breasts. She assures him that this sort of attention is normal for her.
Later, Old Dolio’s father tries to have sex with Melanie, with the blessing of his wife who, at one point, makes it clear that she’s fine with even joining in. Nothing happens, but Melanie and Old Dolio’s father are alone in a room for a while as he unbuttons his pants, takes off his shirt and tells her he’s interested in having sex (although far more graphic language is used). Melanie continues to have the conversation out of fear but eventually leaves.
Old Dolio gets frustrated at Melanie for sleeping in short shorts and a crop top, asking her if she’s intending to get her “all riled up.” Once, when she’s angry and afraid, Old Dolio crudely (with anatomical references) tells Melanie that she will miss sex when she dies.
A birth video shows a mother, topless, practicing skin to skin contact with her baby as the newborn tries to latch. This is not a sexual scene in any way, but the woman’s bare chest is visible.
Melanie makes reference to a friend she used to know who is a stripper. Melanie wears a crop top. A random couple kisses in the background. Two women make out in a store.
Old Dolio’s father demands that she walk into a dying man’s room to check and see if he’s dead yet so they can steal from him. Old Dolio chooses to sit next to the man as he “falls asleep forever.”
The f-word is used three times, but once in a sexual context. God’s name is misused twice.
A collection of prescription pills sits atop a nightstand. Melanie talks about a cousin of hers that tried to “kick pills.” A few people drink wine at a restaurant.
Old Dolio’s parents are master manipulators. The movie never delves into their past, but from a young age it’s clear they neglected Old Dolio from the time she was young and raised her only for what use she could bring to their family. They taught her how to steal and to be calculating, raising her without physical touch, intimacy or any sort of affirmation.
As a result, Old Dolio doesn’t know how to receive intimacy or love, though she searches for both. In a few scenes this is made evident as she tries to get a massage, fully clothed, but cries when the female masseuse tries to touch her.
Old Dolio stumbles into a parenting class where she learns, for the first time, the difference between a mother who bonds with her baby and one who does not. She later asks her mother if she practiced skin to skin contact with her when she was an infant, and her mom tells her she was laid aside on a cot instead.
While Old Dolio and Melanie assist Old Dolio’s parents in stealing a few times, it’s clear that both are uncomfortable with what’s happening (eventually). They all steal from a dying man as well as an elderly woman. Old Dolio’s parents send her to steal and lie for them in many instances.
Old Dolio’s parents lie to her, telling her that they love her and calling her “hon’,” trying suddenly to make up for all of the affectionate names she longed for as a child. They promise her that they’re going to make things right and be the parents who love and care for her. Instead, they steal from her and Melanie.
Old Dolio’s parents, along with the young woman herself, suffer from a form of anxiety and, possibly, mental illness. In one scene, Old Dolio and her family, along with Melanie, pretend they’re a loving family, right before her father sends her off to steal. The scene is decidedly creepy and emotionally heavy, but it illustrates her parents’ inability to show true affection, shows their manipulation, and Old Dolio’s longing for affirmation and love as their daughter.
Melanie also craves this affection, and she references that her mother is obsessed with her phone.
Have you ever looked at the title of a movie, watched the trailer, and thought you knew what the film would be about? Well, Kajillionaire is nothing like it seems.
Based on the title alone you might think you’re getting an amateur Ocean’s Eleven. But you’re not. Not even close. Instead, you get a story about a neglected, emotionally abused young woman who has no idea how to truly connect with humans. And the only hope she finds is in the film’s pseudo- protagonist, Melanie.
The film wants to discuss the purpose of life, the need for intimacy and connection and the true love that parents can bring to their children. And it does, in a way. But it also brings with it crude language, weird, creepy sexual moments and some seriously twisted themes.
This obviously isn’t a movie for kids but, honestly, it’s not even a movie I’d ever want to watch again.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).