King of California Review
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For the last two years, life has been pretty quiet for sixteen-year-old Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood). Though she had to work her way around Social Services to avoid ending up in a foster home—and she had to quit school and get a job at McDonald’s to support herself—she’s managed to get by on her own. But when her father, Charlie (Michael Douglas), returns home after two years in a mental institution, he throws her quiet, orderly existence into a spin.

Not long after Charlie’s return, Miranda realizes that he hasn’t really changed. Instead of looking for a job and settling back into suburban life, Charlie’s hunting for buried treasure. His hospital reading included the journals of a Spanish explorer who was forced to abandon his gold in California hundreds of years ago, and Charlie’s convinced that he’s cracked the code that will lead him straight to the treasure.

Though smart and sensible Miranda is pretty sure that Charlie’s completely lost it, she really wants to believe him—and it’s not hard to see why. Douglas’s Charlie may be crazy, but he’s just so charming—and his childlike excitement is so contagious—that you’ll want to believe him, too.

Douglas is outstanding as Charlie. He gives such a mesmerizing performance, in fact, that you’ll find yourself caught up in the magic and the craziness of his character’s hunt for buried treasure. Charlie is undoubtedly batty (though lovably so), but he’s also bright—and incredibly convincing. Like a crazy, bearded pied piper, he’ll lead you along with him on his strange adventure.

It’s definitely the characters that make King of California such a magical film. Sure, the light and simple story is imaginative and unpredictable, but you’ll fall in love with it because of Charlie and Miranda. Charlie is a dreamer who just wants to do something great; Miranda is a girl who grew up way too fast, who’s spent her life trying to create some stability for herself and her eccentric father. Through Miranda’s candid narration and a few bittersweet flashbacks along the way, you’ll get a look at their unconventional life together—the good memories as well as the bad. And the more you get to know them, the more you’ll love them.

It’s not every day that you find characters this loveable—or performances this captivating. Check out this delightfully quirky film, and it’ll have you off hunting for your own buried treasure.

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