Charlie (Michael Douglas) is a mentally ill deadbeat fresh out of hospital. He emerges from the nuthouse, mad-eyed, bushy-bearded and bent on finding some Spanish Conquistadors' loot, which he believes lies buried beneath Costco. His teenaged daughter, Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood), wearily accepts him back into her life and agrees to help. As is the case with most "treasure hunt" capers, the plot is wafer-thin and predictable, but Douglas' performance keeps it afloat and the story bounces along at a healthy pace. Sadly, thanks to the patchy screenplay ("Time to get on that old bipolar pony and ride", says Miranda as she welcomes her father home), we feel surprisingly little for the main characters; Charlie is too infuriating to be endearing and Miranda is either bored or furious. The tone of the film is also perplexing: one minute it's a comedy (Miranda at a wrinkly swingers barbecue) the next, a dark portrayal of mental illness (Charlie hanging from the chandelier). King of California serves as a platform for Douglas' considerable comedic talents, but if it's treasure hunts you're after, The Goonies can't be beat.
* Katie Boucher