King of California - Review


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King of California

There's something magical about the idea of buried treasure. In fact, I'm fairly certain if you were to give anyone a shovel, a compass, and vast area of land they'd immediately go looking for it. I mean, after you point a gun at them and tell them to dig. No matter what the case, the act of finding treasure is as rewarding as the act of claiming it for your own. King of California, the independent film starring Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood, tries to claim that treasure for itself.

Miranda's dad has just been released from a mental institution, this time looking only a little less crazy than when she saw him last, which was when he was violently strangling himself from a chandelier. In his absence, she got a spiffy job at a McDonalds, a truly terrible car, and also apparently stopped calling her father, Charlie, by the honorary title of dad.

It's a tense situation, and you can tell that on your own. Unfortunately, the movie deems it necessary to give Miranda a voice-over for the majority of the first act. It seems redundant, and the insights she provides are, for the most part, dull and uninspired.

Luckily, Miranda's dad has a plan so crazy that it just might work. He's certain that there's a cache of Spanish doubloon's buried somewhere in Southern California, and they're close by. The only problem is, the "x" that marks this spot is located six feet underneath a Costco.

Charlie's aspirations, and the apparent lack-luster existence of Miranda's life, immediately clash. Within this is a great dynamic as the dreams of the supposed caretaker become a burden upon the shoulders of the child. It builds well, and when the tether that binds the two literally gets pushed to the limit, it really starts to shine. Unfortunately, the lack-luster existence of Miranda's life is equally reflected in her character, who falls flat in comparison to Michael Douglas's electric and often dramatically moving personality.

Though it gets off to a rough start, and at times resembles more of a student film than a full-on production, King of California gets one thing right. It turns the overdeveloped landscape of California into a cement playground, one where fortunes, treasures, and adventures are waiting buried under every golf-course, Petco, and Applebee's. It has a charming sense of hope about it that makes you forgive it's flaws, no matter how many that be.

It's certainly worth a rental.

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