King of California

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King of California
Review (8/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

King of California is the movie brought to us by Alexander Payne, the man who was responsible for, amongst other movies, Election, About Schmidt and the fantastic Sideways. You can see his fingerprints all over this movie, although this time he is on the producing side of things.

Directed by Michael Cahill in his behind-the-camera debut, King of California stars Michael Douglas as Charlie, an aging musician who has just finished a two-year stint in the looney bin. He moves back into his run-down house that his 17-year old daughter, Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood), has managed to maintain while Charlie was getting better. During his time in the nut house, however, Charlie was able to do a whole lot of reading and research and he came to the conclusion that somewhere in Southern California underneath all the new subdivisions, big box stores and fast food restaurants there is hidden a treasure chest full of 18th century Spanish gold. Charlie recruits Miranda and together father and daughter embark on a mission to dig up the fortune. The only thing we're left to wonder is if a bearded, wild-eyed, skinny-legged old manic-depressive could possibly know where an ancient pot of gold has been hidden for a couple of hundred years.

As I mentioned earlier, King of California has Alexander Payne's influence all over it. It's a slightly off-beat movie, much like Sideways, but not way out in left field. It's got some solid performances - both Douglas and Wood are a wonderful team, much like Giamatti and Haden Church. It's fun. It's humorous but won't leave you rolling in the aisle with laughter. And, most importantly, King of California has heart. Charlie and Miranda have some truly tender moments between them that are sure to leave audience members with a warm feeling in their heart and a smile on their face. If it doesn't do that to you, maybe you should look at checking yourself into the looney bin.

I didn't walk out of King of California thinking I just saw the best movie of the year. I thought that two years ago when I saw Sideways. The thing about this movie is that everything about it is so likeable. Sadly, it might not be a movie for everyone. I think that the majority of my friends have either not even seen Sideways or were pretty lukewarm on it. But with that being said, at least one of them thinks "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" is a classic. King of California might not be flashy, it might not have a great pace and it really shouldn't have shown Michael Douglas wearing shorts. But with all that being said, if you see this movie and you don't have that fuzzy feeling when it ends then you should probably go see a doctor because chances are you don't have a heartbeat.

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