After spending several years in a mental institute 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 her peaceful existence.
At first glance, one might expect King Of California to be a comedy. However, there is a lot more at the core of this film than a quirky and fresh-out-of-the-mental institution father trying to dig a hole in the local Costco.
Miranda, played by Evan Rachel Wood, has a slightly tighter grasp on reality than her father, Charlie, played by Michael Douglas. Having to take responsibility at an early age for her father, she grew up much too quickly. With the release of Charlie from the institution, Miranda is understandably worried and stressed out as she tries her hardest to make up for his short-comings. In a series of less than desirable events, Miranda becomes aware of her father’s desire to find an ancient Spanish treasure buried beneath their local Costco. While reluctant at first, Miranda notices that Charlie’s theory does in fact appear to hold water, and she soon finds herself swept up into the quest for the buried treasure as well. Along the way, the two are able to breathe life back into their challenging relationship and share the bond that every child desires to share with their parent.
King of California was not only written but also directed by Hollywood new-comer Mike Cahill, who does an excellent job at keeping the story on track and developing the two main characters. But it is the cast that really brings the story to life. While the script is good on its own, it’s easy to see how it could have been just another movie with anyone else in the lead roles. The whole film is rather basic which was actually refreshing. I credit a lot of this to Michael Douglas and the fact that this is such a different character from his normal repertoire.
There are some decent special features on the DVD as well including a “making of” featurette and outtakes that provide a nice compliment to the film release. There is also a commentary track supplied by the production team, however, no actors. I would have loved to have heard Evan Rachel Wood or Michael Douglas chime in with amusing anecdotes about filming on the track.
Words of advice with this one, don’t go in expecting a comedy. Just expect a good movie.
Review by Emma Loggins
Official site: http://www.firstlookstudios.com/films/king/
Buy on Amazon: King Of California