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King of California (2007)

A movie directed by Mike Cahill

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A Tired Script but a Platform for the Skillful Acting of Douglas and Wood

  • Feb 1, 2008
  • by
Rating:
+3
KING OF CALIFORNIA may not break any records for innovation of thought or script but it is a tightly made little film that allows veteran actor Michael Douglas a lollipop of a wacky role to remind us that he does have comedic talent! It also gives 20-year old Evan Rachel Wood the opportunity to compete with a Pro and come out an equal - quite a feat for such a young actress. Written and directed by Mike Cahill the story does have appeal, especially since it is set in Santa Clarita, California, a rapidly developing 'hinterland' that is suffering from the effects of too rapid industrialization, changing from a picturesque remnant of California raw beauty into yet another perky little town.

Charlie (Michael Douglas) has been in and out of mental institutions for his wacky behavior. His life as a jazz bassist and entrepreneur has always veered off the map, leaving him alone with his only daughter Miranda who has survived her father's irresponsible life by keeping the old family home (in the midst of a huge housing development) with the money she makes double shifting at the local MacDonalds. When Charlie is released his focus is on discovering the gold left behind by Catholic priests in the mid 1600s, a fact he has researched while hospitalized, on the Internet, and from the journal of one of the priests. Miranda slowly buys into Charlie's madcap scheme and adventure as a gold hunter and the caper results in a bonding between father and daughter that has been teetering on the brink of disaster for years. The manner in which Charlie, Miranda, and an old ex-con friend Pepper (Willis Burks II) go after the treasure provides most of the energy of the film.

Yes, there are bits and pieces of this project that have been done many times before (and often better), but the pleasure of KING OF CALIFORNIA lies in the bravura and touching performances by Douglas and Wood. This is a pleasant excursion of a movie, worth an evening's gander. Grady Harp, February 08

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More King of California (2007) reviews
review by . May 31, 2009
... and an adroit portrayal of a nut-case California libertarian dysfunctional father with a heart (or possibly a whole chest) of gold. If you've ever lived in California, especially southern, you're excused; you don't need to see it, you can just sit on a step-ladder in your patio and watch your neighbors. Otherwise, you might not feel too bad about wasting an hour-and-a-half on a film that aspires to be as wildly sardonic as a Coen Brothers movie, but ends up as sappy as Gidget.    Oh …
review by . March 27, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
I thought I'd fallen in love with Michael Douglas years ago when I saw Romancing the Stone on a warm summer afternoon. Turns out it was just infatuation. By the end of the movie, I realized I could never make a life with him--I hate men who are willing to betray their women, even if they come back around in the end.... But now... with the beard and the 'character' lines in his face--and the ability to take on a persona wholly unlike his own--I love him again. For real this time.
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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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

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Details

Director: Mike Cahill
Screen Writer: Mike Cahill
DVD Release Date: January 29, 2008
Runtime: 93 minutes
Studio: First Look Pictures
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