Michael Douglas is such a great dramatic actor (not to mention villain) that it's worth remembering what a strong comedic performer he can be (War of the Roses
,Romancing the Stone
). InKing of California
, he digs into his offbeat lighter role with relish and vigor. Yet he softens the scene-chewing with appropriate poignancy, given that he's playing a mentally ill deadbeat who's essentially left his daughter to raise herself--and him. Douglas plays Charlie, a troubled yet good-humored musician who's just been released from institutional care. Evan Rachel Wood is his wise-beyond-her-years daughter, Miranda, who pays the bills, keeps house, and even buys a car as an unlicensed 15-year-old. The film examines the bond between troubled dad and grounded teen, and it's to both actors' credit that the slight (and slightly incredulous) plot doesn't diminish the impact of their love or anguish.
Charlie's convinced a buried Spanish treasure lies beneath the local Costco (one of many companies given costar billing; others include McDonald's, Petco, Target, and Chuck E. Cheese). The plot follows Charlie's single-minded, impossible-dream journey, while the world-weary Miranda is resigned to following ("Time to get on that old bipolar pony and ride," she mutters). But along the way, dad and daughter find true ways to reconnect, and therein lies the true majesty of King of California --A.T. Hurley