Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
and David Duchovny
What's it about
A writer and his girlfriend need another couple to split gas money on a drive to California. Unfortunately, one of their new riding pals is a redneck serial killer. Talk about bad luck.
Is it good movie?
If I remember correctly, this last time I watched Kalifornia was around 1995. I think Seven was coming out soon and this flick had just hit the local video store. Pitt wasnít exactly a superstar yet, but it was clear the dude had something going on. So now revisiting this flick 17 years later (really?!!) has made me realize a few things. One, Pitt is a damn good actor if he has the right role. Here, he really seems to relish the trailer trash killer role by rejecting that pretty boy image he had coming off Thelma and Louise. Two, Juliet Lewis is beyond perfect as the constantly naÔve trashy girl. Her ability in this and in Natural Born Killers, Way of the Gun, Whatís Eating Gilbert Grape (and more!) is missed today as no other actor matches her. Three, the chick from Star Trek: TNG and Escape from L.A. is way too manly to be the sexy lead. She was miscast here. Lastly, old Fox Mulder himself is really only good in one thing, X-Files. Heís your classic Hollywood tale of not only being stereotyped, but never creating another performance outside of Mulder (and maybe the Red Shoe Diaries. I havenít seen Californiation yet) that resonated with audiences. Outside of being Mr. FBI, the guyís just boring and dull, which is what he is in Kalifornia. Heís just not interesting as a writer who wants to write a book about killers and where they lived. I couldnít bite.
While Kalifornia isnít anywhere near the level of Seven in terms of tension, tone and mood, it has its moments, but they are far too few to make it a go to flick. But those are just minor elements because without Pitt, Kalifornia wouldnít be worth watching; itíd be just an average killer-in-the-waiting movie. But with him, itís something more. He pulls off the difficult trifecta of likability, terror, and vulnerability. Beyond 12 Monkeys, this could be his best work as an actor and it makes me wish heíd step out and do some wilder shit again. Heís just too safe now, which I guess happens to nearly all actors.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen presentation
Audio: Presented with the power of 5.1 DTS-HD
Notta. Well, unrated version with three extra minutes. Plus a DVD copy.
Slow as a short bus at times, but Pittís performance as a white trash killer makes the movie entertaining and worthwhile of your demanding time.