King of California (PG-13)

Drama 93 September 28, 2007
By Robert Wilonsky
Michael Douglas is a mental patient on the loose, out to liberate Spanish gold buried beneath a Costco — or maybe a Petco or that Applebee’s over yonder. Bushy-bearded, wild-eyed and dressed like an art-directed hobo, Douglas looks like he’s working on a Wonder Boys sequel; if only. Instead, we’re merely off to Crazytown, with Evan Rachel Wood along for the bumpy ride as Douglas’s poor, put-upon daughter, who finds her solitary, humdrum existence — nights working at McDonald’s, days wandering an empty house — ruined by the return of her nutty pops. Dad somehow convinces the pragmatic teen to go on late-night roadside scavenger hunts armed with only a metal detector, some old journals, and a gardener’s shovel. Hard to tell what’s more annoying in this empty character study of eccentrics and the suckers who love them: the braying, blurting soundtrack or Douglas himself, who can’t find his way into a man tortured by dull demons. As for Wood, there’s but one saving grace: At least she doesn’t have to sing Beatles songs, as she’s forced to do in Across the Universe. That automatically renders King of California her best bad film of 2007, hands down.
Mike Cahill Michael Douglas, Evan Rachel Wood Mike Cahill George Furla First Look Studios