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King Of California

Year of Release: 2007
Genre: Comedy / Drama
PG-13 for some strong language, mature thematic elements and brief drug references.
Mike Cahill
Michael Douglas, Evan Rachel Wood, Willis Burks II, Laura Kachergus, Paul Lieber, Kathleen Wilhoite.

Date Of Review: April 2008

“King Of California”….. sounds like a recruitment video for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political campaign not a Michael Douglas family drama. At a time when Michael Douglas’ career is floundering he returns to the big screen in this independent comedy / drama that promises a lot but delivers much less. As a comedy it didn't click for me and as a drama it didn't engage me. The plot sees Douglas return home after spending two years in a mental institution, his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) soon finds out that her father isn’t as well as he seems and has a hidden agenda involving the search for a lost Spanish treasure. Douglas’ behavior drives his daughter as nuts as he is and she eventually gives in and helps him with his search.  The journey takes the two of them to a “Costco” supermarket where Douglas believes the treasure is buried. The plot is interesting but the way in which the film is structured frustrated the life out of me and the narrative by Evan Rachel Wood also grated on me.  The performances are good but the film is nevertheless plodding from start to finish and ultimately struggles to get your attention.

“King Of California” gives Michael Douglas an opportunity to showcase his acting chops and he gives a performance that is reminiscent of some of his father’s great work but seriously that’s where it ends. Kirk Douglas sported a beard when he starred as tortured artist Vince Van Gogh in the 1956 film "Lust For Life". You can't help but think of that film when you see Michael in this. The father and son certainly have a striking resemblance in both look and performance. Michael Douglas has been quoted as stating that his part in "King Of California" is one of his best roles to date but even his fine performance can’t save the film from mediocrity. I found the film uneven in tone, tiresome and at a rather short 93 minutes running time I still felt it wore out its welcome. If you are a Michael Douglas fan you will enjoy watching him give it his all but if you don’t care too much about Douglas or the plot for that matter you will find yourself scratching your head wondering what all the fuss is about. “King Of California” is strictly a matter of taste, you could love it, you could hate it or like me you don’t care any which way about it.

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