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. 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.
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
). In King 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