King of California | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

In so many films, caring for a mentally ill relative is presented as mildly frustrating but mitigated by the patient's delightful quirkiness and outsider's wisdom. Such is the case in writer-director Mike Cahill's dramedy, in which the sensible but sensitive teen-age Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood) is reunited with her post-treatment dad, Charlie (a loose, shaggy Michael Douglas). Charlie's reinvigorated, not from therapy, but from having sussed out the location of buried gold left by an early Spanish explorer of Southern California. Father and daughter bond over the search, even as Miranda knows better, because Charlie's joie de vivre (read: high manic) offers thrills absent from Miranda's bland environment: Dreams, however unrealistic, are catching. King is liberally sprinkled with wry digs at current California dreams, which include the paving over of orange groves (now, an outdated reverie) with suburban housing pods and big-box retail, and the deluded hopes of immigrants who still wash up pie-eyed on the shores. Starts Fri., Oct. 5. Squirrel Hill (AH)

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