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King of California
DVD disk
02.08.2008 By: Jason Adams
King of California order
Director:
Mike Cahill

Actors:
Michael Douglas
Evan Rachel Wood
Willis Burks II

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Recently released from a mental institution, Charlie returns home to his 16-year old daughter Miranda, who has been secretly taking care of herself in his absence. As he attempts to adjust back to normal society, the still-very-eccentric Charlie finds himself torn between being a much needed father-figure in Mirandaís life and enlisting her in his fairy tale search for lost Spanish gold (which may or may not be buried under a local Costco).
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
First of all, great beard. Seriously, kudos to Mr. Douglas for that conquistador-caliber mane. Itís amazing. As our esteemed founder Mr. JoBlo once remarked on legendary facial hairÖďI want to live in that thing.Ē

Besides crazed beards of glory, KING OF CALIFORNIA has a few other things going for it. One is a plot that revolves around Costco, which is surely one of the greatest places on Earth. Another is a funny, lighthearted script that really nails its two well-realized main characters. And the third is a fantastic and much welcome performance by Michael Douglas.

Douglas is vibrant and alive as Charlie, a role that allows him to cut loose and go crazy (literally)ósomething we donít see from Douglas too often. His performance is enjoyably comedic and wacky (without being annoying or unbelievable), but he still has a strong emotional center as a father trying to make up for his failures. Itís really a great character to remind you of what an effective actor Douglas can be. Evan Rachel Wood also handles herself very well as the mature-beyond-her-years Miranda, which strengthens the dynamic between the father-daughter team. Itís easy to see why Miranda is still drawn to Charlie despite his obvious lunacy and utter lack of child-rearing skills. As a result, the two share some genuinely funny, sweet and sad moments together.

The treasure hunting aspect of KING OF CALIFORNIA can be fun, but I thought some other parts were a little slow and altogether simple. Sometimes both of these things kinda work in its favor; other times not so much. Ultimately, itís a feel-good movieóthe kind thatís fun and easy to watch, but not necessarily something Iíll pop in the olí DVD player again anytime soon.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary by writer/director Mike Cahill, cinematographer Jim Whitaker, production designer Dan Bishop, and first assistant director Richard L. Fox: Itís a pretty average commentary with a couple unnecessary people, but I did enjoy some of Cahillís insights on how they adjusted things to fit their low budget. (The script called for both guns and dogs, but both were deemed too expensive.)

The Making of KING OF CALIFORNIA (9:58): The cast gushes on the script, the filmmakers gush all over the cast, and a voodoo priestess brings the script to life so it can gush about the director. Itís the circle of life.

Outtakes (4:43): Nothing too side-splitting, but itís nice to see Gordon Gekko act silly.

Trailers and Previews.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
KING OF CALIFORNIA is an enjoyable comedy-drama with a crazy good performance by Michael Douglas. If youíre in the mood for something lighthearted and beardtastic, check it out.

Extra Tidbit: The gold was buried underneath a Wal-Mart in the original script. However, the monopolistic chain wouldnít allow filming in their store, leaving the production strandedÖuntil Costco came and saved the day. God bless you, Costco.
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