King of California (2007)
“We’re All Searching for Something …”
Director: Mike Cahill
Cast: Michael Douglas, Evan Rachel Wood, Willis Burk II
Synopsis: An unstable dad who after getting out of a mental institution tries to convince his daughter that there’s Spanish gold buried somewhere under suburbia.
Time has a way of passing us by without us even noticing. Like crackpot Charlie’s old house, surrounded on all sides by a new housing development, the world in which we used to live disappears little by little until we finally realise we no longer have a place in it. If it bothers us too much, we can timidly accept the inevitable, throw a rope around a convenient light fitting and kick and choke our way out of the world, or we can embrace who we are and the world in which we really belong and bow out with a last hurrah…
Michael Douglas isn’t always convincing as a straight actor, but he’s quite an accomplished and under-appreciated comic actor who perfectly nails the role of Charlie, eccentric father to 16-year-old Miranda who has been forced to leave school and take a job at MacDonald’s in order to keep the crumbling house in which Charlie was born while he spends a period in a mental institution following a failed suicide bid. It would have been easy to play over the top, but Douglas manages to communicate Charlie’s seemingly misplaced enthusiasm for a pointless cause and his outlook on life that has him believing, as his despairing daughter points out, that the world is there for his entertainment. If a character like Charlie is well written the viewer can’t help but root for him, no more how absurd his quest may seem.
Evan Rachel Wood who, at the age of 20 has more than 20 film credits to her name holds up well against Douglas as his exasperated but loving daughter, which is just as well because this pair pretty much have to carry the film between them. There’s something of Drew Barrymore about her, although Wood is a more accomplished actor. While the script doesn’t contain many belly laughs, the film is a gently amusing study of what boil down to fairly mundane ingredients: the need to stay true to yourself and your dreams, etc., and is worth 90 minutes of anybody’s time.