Movie Review: King of California (2007)

A California comedy with a heart.

Michael Douglas is “Charlie,” a jazz base player, a dreamer, and a loser who spends a few years in a mental institution for a tune-up from the neck-up.

His sixteen year old daughter Miranda ( Evan Rachel Wood) has lost half of her heart when her mom left the house years ago but she managed to learn how to take care of herself.

In a sense, father and daughter switched Emotional IQs over the intervening years – he became the child while she grew into what he should’ve been; the responsible one.

However, being responsible sometimes means burying one’s dreams. That’s an option Charlie has never entertained.

So it goes… no sooner than Charlie is released from the psychiatric ward he shares his life’s ambition with Miranda: to find the long-lost treasure of a 17th century Spanish captain. He is dead serious about it and uses both his metal detector and ancient books about the era to convince Miranda.

(WARNING: plot points revealed.)

After her initial resistance, Miranda agrees to play along. This childish man is after all the only parent and possibly also the only friend she’s got left in life.

But STOP! They have an obstacle in the shape of a giant Costco warehouse. The secret Spanish treasure is buried under that chunk of concrete, according to Charlie’s best calculations.

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Joined by his former band member Pepper (Willis Burks II), they hatch a plan.

After breaking into the Costco warehouse at night and digging at the “Mark of X,” the story takes a really bizarre turn.

At the bottom of the hole dug on the warehouse floor, Charlie and Miranda find a pool of water. Miranda is pretty sure it’s the sewer. Charlie thinks it’s a pool of sulfur hiding the sunken treasure ship.

By taking full advantage of Costco’s shameless product placement, Charlie finds a diving suit and oxygen tank and dives right in.

At the end, Charlie finds the sunken treasure he was looking for. Miranda finds her treasure too, which is not minted in the 17th century: her new-found love for a man that showed her the correct way to live in life.

A sweet little feel-good flick with no ambitious agenda. Nothing here to set the House of Drama on fire. It delivers the 93 minutes of pleasant distraction that it promises at the outset.

Michael Douglas proves that his prodigious range as an actor covers sensitive mindful comedy as well. Written and directed by Mike Cahill.

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