MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -3 1/2

Budding author Brian (David Duchovny) and his photographer girlfriend Carrie (Michelle Forbes) dream of living in California. As a way of gathering material for his book on serial killers, they decide to visit the murder sites on their way to California. Short of gas money, they post an ad for a ride share. White-trash Early Grayce (Brad Pitt), a real serial killer, and his simple-minded girlfriend Adele (Juliette Lewis) show up, and the unlikely foursome is off to California. The country bumpkin Adele and sinister Early contrast sharply with trendy and educated Brian and Carrie. Material for Brian's book comes alive as Early launches a grisly string of cold-blooded murders along the way. Ever-growing suspense coupled with strong acting, aren't enough to override the distasteful subject matter exploited as "entertainment."

Unfortunately, this thriller thrives on Early's violence, which is increasingly directed against his three traveling companions. Eight murders, all but two off-screen, several with a bloody aftermath, become the focus of this sordid tale. Brian tells us the difference between us and them, referring to normal people as "us" and serial killers as "them," is in feeling remorse, dealing with guilt, and confronting one's conscience. However, no solution is offered for dealing with this threat to society. Certainly, though, the dangers of picking up strangers comes across loud and clear. Ironically, Early forbids Adele to smoke, drink or curse. She spells out obscenities and profanities to vent her anger or frustration. He drinks heavily, even at breakfast, and the numerouse crudities, obscenities, and profanities pollute the dialogue. Premarital sex is implied twice between Early and Adele, including one rather explicit scene of them having sex in a convertible. Photographer Carrie displays her portfolio of graphic nudes and intercourse photos for no particular reason except to titillate. Two gratuitous urination scenes and one of two dogs mating add to the film's offensiveness. KALIFORNIA poses an interesting look at serial killers, but its messages are overwhelmed by its explicit sexual content, nudity, sadistic violence and foul language.

Preview Reviewer: Alice Anderson
Gramercy Pictures, 9247 Alden Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (22) times - Mild 10; Moderate 12

Obscene Language: Many (31) times (f-word 8, s-word 12, other 11)

Profanity: Many (25) times - Regular (22), Exclamatory (3)

Violence: Many times (8 murders (2 on-screen), beatings, rough treatment)

Sex: Few (3) times - one explicit, no nudity; two implied

Nudity: Photos of female frontal nudity; much revealing clothing

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several (references to intercourse)

Drugs: Many times (alcohol drinking)

Other: Insight into serial killers' common denominator; a lack of remorse, guilt or conscience; urination scenes; dogs mating

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