Review: ‘King of California’
Starring: Michael Douglas, Evan Rachel Wood and Willis Burks II
Rated: PG-13, for some strong language, mature thematic elements and brief drug references
Running time: 93 minutes
One of the things that makes life interesting is sometimes it has to keep you on your toes. A flat tire here, a hurricane there.
It’s not all bad, though. Sometimes, to keep you on your toes, you’re given a chance to take a risk and an opportunity to trust someone.
In “King of California,” you’re given all of that, plus buried treasure. Seriously.
Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood) is a 16-year-old living on her own in California and supporting herself by working at McDonald’s. Hey, it’s honest work.
Her mother is no longer in the picture and her father, Charlie (Michael Douglas), has been living in a mental institution. Needless to say, it hasn’t been easy for Miranda to scrape by, but she’s managed to maintain a routine, much like we all do. Until now.
Charlie is released from the institution and moves in with Miranda, who thinks things could possibly be better for them now that he has supposedly been helped.
That’s not the case, though, as Charlie immediately begins acting and behaving somewhat erratically (erratically in a funny way, for this is a comedy). Before Miranda knows it, the routine she’s worked so hard to maintain becomes anything but.
Charlie lies about having job interviews in order to be driven to certain places where he can check coordinates and count paces. Not exactly how I like to spend my free time, but to each their own.
There’s a simple explanation for all this madness, though-- he’s looking for buried treasure. Perfectly sane...right?
As they say, “X” marks the spot. This time around the proverbial “X” happens to take the form of a Costco. Yeah, as in “buy a membership, try our free samples,” Costco.
I guess they really do have everything.
Charlie’s plan is to break into the wholesale store, drill through the cement floor and dig down until he finds the gold he’s positive is there.
Okay, so it’s not exactly the plan of the century, but at the very least it’s an entertaining one that could certainly pass for plan of the hour.
Why that would seem a difficult task in and of itself, it turns out that the main problem Charlie will face is convincing the level-headed, wise-beyond-her-years Miranda he’s not crazy (not entirely, anyway) and that he needs her help.
And if they’re both lucky, maybe somewhere along the way they’ll be able form some kind of father/daughter relationship.
That last part might be a stretch, but if you can hunt for buried treasure beneath a Costco, anything is possible.
Call me crazy, but if you give me a plot line that involves that last statement, I’m there. That’s the exact type of creative thinking that has been missing from a lot of movies lately, so I become hopeful whenever something like this comes along.
And is it an idea that is really that complicated? Of course not! Simplicity can do wonders in an era of sequels and remakes.
The fact that Michael Douglas stars in it adds even more credence, as well.
These are the types of roles that actors like him don’t usually take for two simple reasons. 1) It shows that they have, despite their hair and make-up artist’s best efforts, become old. 2) Their characters aren’t cool and hip, at least not in the conventional sense.
So in my opinion, a role like this can be dangerous for an actor. Why? Because you actually have to live up to your job title.
Douglas has certainly proven that time and again, but with some of the movies he’s been in recently (i.e., “The In-Laws” and “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”), it’s nice to know he can still pick a good movie when he wants to.
Wood also gives a solid performance as the teenage daughter who’s spent so much time being a grown up that she’s forgotten how to act her age. She’s a talented actress in that she can hold her own in every scene she’s in and is someone I wish Hollywood would give more roles to. They’ll come around eventually.
Bottom line, “King of California” is a delightfully creative take on an old premise. Between Douglas’ quirky, childlike Charlie and Wood’s straight-laced, parental Miranda, you’ll have no problem devoting and enjoying an hour and a half of your time.
The Movie Dude, Joe Altomere of Fort Myers, grew up in his parents’ video store in Plantersville, Texas. He owns close to 2,000 DVDs and Blu-ray discs and considers that only the start of his collection. E-mail him at email@example.com.