“King of California”

kingofcalifornia.jpgMichael Douglas
Evan Rachel Wood
Willis Burks II
Laura Kachergus
Paul Lieber
Kathleen Wilhoite

PG13           93min           2007

After spending several years in a mental institution, Charlie (Michael Douglas) is sent home, reuniting with his teenage daughter, Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood). Charlie becomes obsessed with the notion that a long lost Spanish treasure is buried underneath their local suburban California Costco. Disconnected from reality and his daughter’s life, Charlie’s erratic behavior further strains their relationship and completely disrupts Miranda’s peaceful existence.

Initially skeptical, Miranda soon finds herself joining in Charlie’s questionable antics in an effort to believe in her father and give him one last shot at accomplishing his dreams in this darkly funny, exciting and surprisingly hopeful take on the modern family and the American dream.

“King of California” is a quirky film that has heart. Even through all the chaos of the film at the heart of this film is about a father loving his daughter. Michael Douglas goes a good job of portraying a functioning mental patient on the verge of falling off. Evan Rachel Wood does a great job of portraying a sixteen year old having to take care of herself.

At the heart of this film is a man trying to do right by his daughter. For the most part Michael Douglas’s character is a disruption in the life of Evan Rachel Wood’s character. Her character has fallen through the crack and has become self sufficient at fifteen. This time around he truly wants to do right by his child and has spent his time trying to figure out how to leave her his legacy.

Michael Douglas does a great job portraying a man with a history of mental instability. Just as in real life there are moments when he seems totally sane and coherent, and other moments when you just know he’s about to fall into the abyss. It is those peaks and valleys in his performance that are believable. It’s also what makes the ending, of “King of California”, so touching.

Evan Rachel Wood does a great job of being a believable teenager. She is a girl barely making it when her father comes out of another stint in the institution. His presence is truly a disruption to her but she still loves her father. It is that love that makes her follow her father on this path of what most would consider a fool’s errand.

There is a making of featurette. There are standard outtakes. There is a audio commentary by writer/director Mike Cahill. The movie preview are for “The Amateurs”, “Day Zero”, “Smiley Faces”, “The Contract”, “10 Items or Less”, “Journey to the End of the Night”, “The Proposition”, “Relative Strangers”, “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints”, and “Paris Je T’aime”

I give it 3/5.


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