King Of California * * * 1/2

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Director: Mike Cahill.
Screenplay: Mike Cahill.
Starring: Michael Douglas, Evan Rachel Wood, Kathleen Whilhoite, Willis Burks II, Laura Kachergus, Paul Lieber.

Nepotism is rife throughout Hollywood and as much as I despise it, I think I may have to finally admit that after all these years, Michael Douglas does have some talent of his own and isn’t just a by-product of his father Kirk.

Charlie (Michael Douglas) is a free-spirited eccentric who’s just been released from a mental institution and is obsessed with locating an ancient Spanish treasure that he believes is buried right under peoples noses in California. To aide him in his crazy quest – and against her better judgement – he enlists his sixteen-year-old daughter Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood).

Douglas is a treat to watch here. I always took him to be one of the self-important Hollywood types, but here he doesn’t take himself too seriously at all and reminded me that he, has in fact, produced some wonderful comedic performances throughout his career; “War of the Roses”; “Wonderboys”; and “One Night at McCools”, to name a few. His character of Charlie can be included amongst these oddities. He’s highly intelligent but also quite dysfunctional on a basic level and Douglas perfectly captures this creative, intelligent madness. This is also helped by Evan Rachel Wood’s sensitive performance as Miranda and her almost escapist, dreamlike perspective which adds to the surreal and farout nature of her father and her feelings of a stolen childhood, due his quirky demeanor. They are both delightful performances in an unexpectedly delightful film.

It’s not groundbreaking material by any means but it is an original little caper with a real sense for the offbeat.

Mark Walker

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