Kalifornia (1993) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

You are writing a book about mass murderers. Your girlfriend is doing the photography for the book. To complete the project, you would like to have first-hand experiences and pictures of the important murder sites, but you can't afford the cross-country journey on your own, so you advertise for a couple willing to ride-share to California.

And, durn the luck, wouldn't you just know that the only guy who answers your ad is a mass murderer. Hey, what are the chances?

Of course, this allows the filmmaker to plant all kinds of irony in the situation. The scholarly Duchovny pontificates on mass murder to the mass murderin' Brad Pitt, and only listens to Pitt's opinions to humor him. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Well, what a wacky trip it turns out to be. Every time they stop for gas, Pitt takes a break to kill a few convenience store clerks or customers, then he comes out of the bloody bathroom all messed up like Ace Ventura and says to Duchovny "do NOT go in there - it stinks", and then drags him away before he can see the latest body count.


David Duchovny's buns are seen in a dark sex scene. Brad Pitt's butt is seen far from the camera ina nighttime shot.

Juliette Lewis flashes her breast at Brad Pitt. This is seen in clear daylight fom two different camera angles.

And ol' Brad has kind of a hair trigger.
  • A landlord asks him to pay his rent? Bingo, he's dead meat.
  • A waitress a little too snippy? Chop off her head.
  • C-store clerk a little slow with the Slurpee machine? He's toast.
  • Inaccurate TV weather report? Need I say more about the weather-girl's fate?

Of course, he doesn't kill just out of anger. Sometimes he needs to kill. Here's an example. It's Brad's turn to pay for the gas, he has no money, and there's a rich guy heading into the men's room. C'mon, people, was he supposed to welch on his turn to pay? He had to do something, didn't he?

Or what about the time when they surprise an old woman who is living out in the desert. She claims she's a widow, and when Brad stumbles upon her husband in another remote part of the house, looking through a telescope ... Well, the next line of dialogue is something like "Oh, Peaches, you were right, you are a widow". He couldn't let her be a liar, could he?

Juliette Lewis plays the standard issue girlfriend with an IQ under 80, and she can't believe that Pitt actually kills all these people. Pitt tells her the last c-store clerk was still breathing, and so she feels that everything is OK. He's a lucky guy to have such an understanding woman. I mean most women get mad if you have a beer with the boys or leave the friggin' toilet seat up, but she's OK as long as he beats people nearly to death, as long as he leaves them breathing.

Ah, but the irony keeps building up in the story, because Duchovny obviously finds murder to be some kind of an intellectual turn-on until he sees it kinda up close and personal. When he starts to realize what Pitt is doing, and when the risk turns toward him and his girlfriend, the subject is a lot less attractive, and he decides maybe he'd rather write about the great electric trains of the 1950's or something.

There is no comedy in this, by the way, despite some of the bizarre set-ups I've been describing, and I haven't exaggerated much. The movie is not only grave in tone, but almost pretentiously so.

DVD info from Amazon.

It's one of those early-two-sided DVD's with a 2.35:1 letterboxed widescreen on one side, and a standard 4:3 on the other.



Brad Pitt is once again engaged in proving that he's not just a pretty boy, and turns himself into a mass-killin' Gomer Pyle, with long greasy hair and scars and some kind of backwoods southern accent. He spends most of the movie showing how bad his personal hygiene is. The character is really kind of a caricature, and I don't know how much of that to blame on the screenwriter, and how much on Pitt.

He ends up presenting the character as some kind of psychologically undeveloped monster like the killers in Halloween or Friday the 13th, and I think it might have been more effective and more chilling with some more touches of reality and psychology, rather than allowing the movie to be a thrill-based slasher flick. If we could see him as a more human person, it would be more frightening when his rage turns him into a casual killing machine. But he's so completely creepy that Duchovny's girlfriend has him scoped out before he gets into the car, and has the whole read on him after a short talk with the Pitt girlfriend.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: Between three and three and a half stars. Ebert 4/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4, Maltin 3/4, Apollo 85.

In my opinion, this is overrated except for Berardinelli. The 6.5 from IMDb viewers seems much more reflective of the movie's real caliber. The movie even has a very obvious day-night continuity error, which is quite irritating when it comes from a studio film.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.5, Apollo users 82/100.
  • With their dollars ... despite the good reviews from some critics, Kalifornia took in only about two million at the box, and disappointed the investors who funded the nine million dollar budget.

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