There seems to be an emerging niche genre in Hollywood - quirky, off-beat dramas featuring eccentric characters. The movies try to be funny and smart, tearful and hopeful at the same time (Sideways and Little Miss Sunshine come to the fore immediately). Many of the films tend to succeed, but they all have a similar feel to them, one that allows you to know the ending before it happens and gives you the sense that you've seen the picture before.
King of California, written and directed by Mike Cahill, stars Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood in just such a movie. To be sure, it's good and it's sweet and fun, but it has a terrible feeling of repetitiveness to it.
Douglas's role in the movie is that of Charlie, a relatively harmless but less-than-sane individual who has just been released from a mental hospital. Evan Rachel Wood acts opposite Douglas as Miranda, his nearly 17-year-old daughter who has had to grow up too quickly because of her father's childishness. In order to pay the bills, something Charlie never concerned himself with, Miranda dropped out of school and began working at the local McDonald's while Charlie was in the hospital. Charlie is devastated by this news as he sees Miranda as conforming to the mass consumption society he has always eschewed. For her part, Miranda doesn't necessarily believe in what she's doing, but she does recognize its necessity. Charlie has another idea about how to get money however — he believes there to be a long lost treasure near them, one left by Spanish explorers hundreds of years ago.
Though she is initially skeptical about Charlie's treasure theory, Miranda quickly finds herself heading down the rabbit hole with him. Some of her just wants to make her father happy, some of her just wants to spend time with him, and some of her actually believes that her father may have stumbled upon something huge. Miranda does decide to help him, even though Charlie's clues lead him to believe that the gold is buried beneath a Costco.