Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood star in King of California, a cutesy comedy-drama about a daughter and her delusional father. Haven't heard of it? That's probably because there's not much to see.
King of California is a well conceived little picture, but it lacks the edge and wit of other similar films such as Little Miss Sunshine and Juno. Obviously trying to capitalize on what has become a popular genre (the quirky dramedy), the movie, written and directed by Mike Cahill, has a lot of things going for it - a quality cast and a funny little plot, to name a couple - but it just isn't as funny as it needed to be.
The movie is about a teenage girl smart beyond her years who has to take care of her father, who was just released from a mental institute. Her dad has the habit of getting obsessed with things, and this time he works it into his head that there is buried treasure... underneath the local Costco. He unhatches a plan to drill through the floor of the Costco, and while reluctant at first, the girl decides to go along with the scheme.
The movie is entertaining enough, as Douglas delivers a good performance as the slightly zany Charlie. Douglas seems to have had a lot of fun in the role. I'm also a big fan of Wood (though I question her taste in men), but unfortunately she doesn't have much of a character to work with. Douglas runs circles around her, and all she can do is try to explain how insane he is. Still, for what she has to work with, she's okay.
King of California has a lot of well-intentioned pieces, but there's not enough to glue them altogether. The plot is cute but not fully thought through, and at times it doesn't seem like the actors had enough to do. Ultimately, though, while there are some funny moments, the movie isn't nearly as funny as Cahill thought it was.
If you really like quirky dramedies, you could do worse than King of California, but there's so many better ones out there for you to spend your time on.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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