King of California

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Whimsy is the order of the day in “King of California” — a big ol’ heavy sack full of whimsy.

This is the lightweight story of Charlie (Michael Douglas), a grizzled and enthusiastic old fellow fresh out of a mental institution who fervently believes that Spanish treasure is buried underneath the local Costco. He has a teenage daughter, Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood), who’s been taking care of herself in his absence, and she’s enlisted to help him work out the logistics of getting into the Costco late at night, drilling through the floor, etc.

From first-time writer/director Mike Cahill, the film is a comedy that is only occasionally what you’d call “funny” in the sense of “liable to make a person laugh aloud.” It’s more “whimsical,” in the sense of “this is kind of cute and I’m sort of smiling a lot of the time, but isn’t Michael Douglas’ performance rather self-consciously adorable?” It’s barely distinguishable from the many other independent films about eccentric people who do odd things, but hey, it ain’t bad.

B- (1 hr., 33 min.; PG-13, some profanity.)

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