King of California
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Douglas/Wood ~ King Of California
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Top Customer Reviews
Miranda is torn between wanting to believe in her father and the reality that he is not all there. The movie has occasional flashbacks to Miranda's less than normal childhood. The film is a slow moving indie that is built upon the relationship and not the action.
For those who like well acted quirky indies with a ukelele soundtrack, this one is well worth a view.
Parental Guide: F-bomb. No sex or nudity. Some adult themes.
Personnally, I found Evan Rachel Wood was not giving her 100% and many times, her expressions didn't fit the situation. To me, that plays a lot in a movie.
Apart from this, it's entertaining and in most parts funny, especially with all the ridiculous ideas in Michael Douglas character's mind.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I enjoyed this movie a lot. The wacky-father straight-laced daughter interactions are what make it so fun. I also loved Michael Douglas' character in this film. His character reminds me a lot of a castaway (both in appearance and in his quirky mannerisms). There are tinges of other movie genres in this as well but the director puts the whole project together in a good way that gives is a fresh twist and feeling.
This is a great movie for a Saturday night with a bowl of popcorn and you'll probably tell your friends about it too (I did).
Charlie (Michael Douglas) has been in and out of mental institutions for his wacky behavior. His life as a jazz bassist and entrepreneur has always veered off the map, leaving him alone with his only daughter Miranda who has survived her father's irresponsible life by keeping the old family home (in the midst of a huge housing development) with the money she makes double shifting at the local MacDonalds. When Charlie is released his focus is on discovering the gold left behind by Catholic priests in the mid 1600s, a fact he has researched while hospitalized, on the Internet, and from the journal of one of the priests. Miranda slowly buys into Charlie's madcap scheme and adventure as a gold hunter and the caper results in a bonding between father and daughter that has been teetering on the brink of disaster for years. The manner in which Charlie, Miranda, and an old ex-con friend Pepper (Willis Burks II) go after the treasure provides most of the energy of the film.
Yes, there are bits and pieces of this project that have been done many times before (and often better), but the pleasure of KING OF CALIFORNIA lies in the bravura and touching performances by Douglas and Wood. This is a pleasant excursion of a movie, worth an evening's gander. Grady Harp, February 08
Kind of California is another one of those films, but after watching this great little gem of a film, I realized it really doesn't matter if this film is more of an indy flick or a Hollywood flick... in the end, when the movie is this good, who cares?
We could use more films like King of California, no matter who makes them. Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood are fantastic here, at times quirky and manic, other times truly sad and tragic characters. I find it hard to believe anyone could not fall in love with these characters, and in turn not completely enjoy this film.
A must-see, and a must-buy, one of the better surprises of the year, hands down.
Michael Douglas is excellent as the wildly eccentric Charlie. There is a mischievous glint in his eyes when he feels like he is getting closer to the treasure. The older Douglas gets and the more films he does, the more comfortable an actor he becomes. He delivers a nuanced performance that never veers off into showy scenery-chewing territory. With his mountain man beard, Douglas certainly looks the part of an ex-mental patient and, at times, seems to be channeling Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski (Widescreen Collector's Edition).
Evan Rachel Wood plays Charlie's extremely patient daughter and narrator of this unusual tale and so, naturally, our sympathies lie with her because she's, y'know, the sane voice of reason. Miranda is the responsible one to Charlie's childish antics. Wood is the ideal foil to Douglas, the straight man to his kooky eccentric.
King of California belongs to Douglas and the film sinks of swims based on how well he sells his character's mad quest - kind of like Robin Williams' traumatized bum in The Fisher King. And while Mike Cahill is no Terry Gilliam, Douglas is more than up for taking on this wild ride with the charisma to draw us in, much like Charlie convinces Miranda to follow him.
There is an audio commentary by writer/director Mike Cahill, cinematographer Jim Whitaker, production designer Dan Bishop and first assistant director Richard L. Fox. Cahill talks about how a lack of money forced him to rewrite the opening scene and improve on it. Everyone takes turns pointing out the various locations used in the film which is as boring as it sounds. They also point out dry technical details like the wonders of colour timing. It's amazing that this commentary can be so dull with all of these skilled artists at hand but unfortunately this is the case.
"The Making of The King of California" your standard electronic press kit with soundbites from the cast and crew mixed with clips from the film. Douglas claims that this was one of the best scripts he has ever read and compares his character to Don Quixote. Cast and crew talk about the film's two main characters and gush about the film in general.
"Outtakes" is a fairly amusing collection of blown lines, miscues and goofs.
Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.
This bittersweet film about a madman and his long-suffering daughter takes place against the backdrop of the ongoing "development" (ecological destruction) of Southern California, forcing the viewer to wonder: Who are the truly insane in this film?
A lot of humor goes with this grim implication (the scene with the cop on the golf course is hilarious, if short; the filmmakers also shot a funny golf course scene for SIDEWAYS). I also liked the McDonald's shift manager looking over Miranda's shoulder to make sure she assembled a quarter cheese correctly--this actually happened to me when I was sixteen, working in a Southern California franchise. Some things never change. Miranda and her father stand in for everyone who tries but fails to live in peace with the standardization and industrialization going on all around them.
They also have whatever it takes to "follow your bliss" and try to find some sense of meaning in an increasingly orderly and planned and therefore quite insane urbanized landscape literally covering over the once-verdant earth walked by the so-called savages who appreciated and tended it.
Incidentally, although shot as a romp about a parentified daughter trying to give her bipolar father a sense of purpose, the film bears out what I've written about in Deep California: Images and Ironies of Cross and Sword on El Camino Real and in Terrapsychology: Reengaging The Soul Of Place: what happens to traumatize a colonized and paved-over place never goes away until we find some way to heal the recurring themes by understanding them and reshaping them from within them. Costco and McDonald's are but commercialized and updated missions to convert the locals to a globalized existence that eats their souls and landscapes. The counter-mission resides in the loving heart pursuing its dreams or helping others to, as well-named Miranda does in this Californian tempest.
p.s. For those of you with some knowledge of California history: yes, you're right: no Spanish expeditions during the 1620s. After Cabrillo had been by, landing his ships but making no tours through California, Vizcaino did another sail-by in 1602. After that, no known Spanish incursions came through the state until 1769, when Junipero Serra and his merry band came colonizing. "Santa Clarita" got its name from the river they named "Santa Clara" as they marched through. Incidentally, Miranda's mission history lesson was correct, and not only for the Chumash of the Central Coast: most of the Indians who entered the missions never came out again.
p.p.s. The part about how California got its name is true. The bestseller Miranda refers to was called THE EXPLOITS OF ESPLANDIAN. The author's name was Montalvo. He died just before it got into print.