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This week:
The King of California

Filthy says:

Wasting a treasure hunt story is like a teenage boy with a wheelchair blowing the best excuse he'll ever have to get pretty girls to rub up against him. Sure, the kid won't get laid, but he can ham it up and get cheerleaders to give him busty hugs, at which time he can feel them up and, if called on it, pretend he is also retarded. I guarantee you, no women will ever slap you for copping a feel if you're drooling and have leg braces on. Trust my experience on this one.

King of California is in a wheelchair, shitting its pants and not even a clothed nipple rubbed against its face for a reward. What an indie turd, from a huge indie ass, sprinkled with kernels of corn like Michael Douglas playing a supposedly nuts father, and Evan Rachel Wood playing a clearly dull daughter. The movie wants to be a treasure hunt, and it wants to be some sort of fuckass, wimpy father-daughter bonding movie. First, the two themes go together like chocolate and ketchup. Second, writer/director Mike Cahill fucks up both halves. This flick feels like a bad short story from the Atlantic Monthly.

The movie opens with a shitload of voiceover by Wood explaining how her dad's in an asylum and the mom ran out, so she's a teenager holding down the house. While in the loony bin, Douglas determines that some 17th century missionary left a stash of gold in the hills of Santa Clarita. Meanwhile, Wood has dropped out of high school, took a job at McDonald's and watched cookie-cutter subdivisions rise on every side of her ramshackled house.

When freed from the asylum, Douglas starts digging around, obsessed with finding the buried gold dubloons, deep under the concrete of modern suburbia. This is the first squandered opportunity of the movie. Everywhere it goes, it shows us generified monoliths of modern society, like McDonalds, Costco and Applebees. It could make a statement about how much beautiful and interesting history is smothered below all this bland shit, or how there can still be adventure among big box stores, but it doesn't. Instead, King of California looks like it's advertising every major brand name by showing their marquees in glowing light in just about every fucking scene.

Story one has Wood occasionally telling her dad that he needs to pull his weight and stop dreaming about this gold. His chase is crazy talk, she says. She calls him by his first name and he wants her to call him Dad. They bicker at a level of energy so low it wouldn't light a fluorescent bulb. He wanders around in his underwear. Early on, the movie wants to lead us toward thinking that may be his is crazy. First, he talks about naked Chinese washing ashore. Second he sees a bobcat in their kitchen. But, of course, and as expected, both incidents are explained as real and so, maybe he isn't crazy!!!

Anyway, without much conflict at all, Wood decides her father is right and joins him in his treasure hunt. She finally calls him dad and learns that, really. he was thinking of her all along. It's not only the obvious way it could happen, it's done with so little tension or fanfare that I gave a little bit less than a rat's ass. I mean, really, how else do these stories ever end?

As for the treasure hunt: what a fucking crock. This part is so boring I found myself trying to see how wide I could flare my nostrils. The father and daughter encounter no obstacles, they aren't racing anyone else to reach it. They just move from point to point following their treasure map until they find it. It's buried under the Costco, so Wood gets a job there. Will someone please tell me why the fuck she was working at McDonald's if she could get a job at Costco on her first application? Don't they pay, like, crazy good for a warehouse job? Like, almost enough to live on?

Regardless, the quest for gold is unimpeded until it is found. Then, of course, there is trouble, in the form of police who aren't cool about them digging up a store's floor.

What fucking burned my foreskin like a bad case of syphilis about this pile of shit are two things. First, there is so much boring fucking detail about the treasure hunt. They survey and rent heavy equipment to find pottery shards, and we have to listen to passages of some missionaries journal. None of it enlightens the adventure. It's all just busy detail, much like what I give Mrs. Filthy when I am stalling to think of a good reason why I came home at five a.m. with bite marks on my chin and a wet rash on my forehead (hint: don't fall asleep in a bush where hoary bats live. Brown bats, maybe.).

The second thing is how fucking sloppy the King of California is. for as much detail as it presents when it should be presenting story, it just slacks on so much shit. Douglas sells Wood's car, yet a few scenes later, it is back. Presumably, it has been bought back, but we never see that. In another scene, the house is foreclosed because Douglas says he hasn't kept up on the second and third mortgages. What the fuck? Why did the movie belabor that he was in an asylum and Wood has managed the finances and kept everything afloat? How the fuck could she not know the mortgage was overdue?

At the end of the movie, Wood and Douglas break into the Costco at night and drill a hole in the floor to get to the treasure. Nevermind that we're supposed to believe a Costco would be built where there is an underwater river four feet directly below. When the cops catch up to them, Douglas makes it look like Wood was kidnapped and tied up. He hides the gold in a dishwasher. The next day, Wood goes back to the store and buys that dishwasher. What the fuck? Like that wouldn't raise a few eyebrows? And exactly how much do the filmmakers think a crate of gold coins weigh? Hundreds of pounds, actually. Not the fifty they make it out to be.

Sure, this shit is the details, but it pisses the fuck out of me when moviemakers are so presumptuous about the genius of their story that they just wash out the details they don't want to deal with. It's annoying, like sand in my tighty-whiteys, especially when the director botches the story, and doesn't have much of a point to begin with. My pissed-offedness is further enhanced by the fact that Cahill provides details about other, irrelevant shit, but glosses over this stuff.

Wood doesn't have much to do, so she doesn't. Her acting is nearly catatonic and as dull as a knife made of piss. Douglas acts crazy, crazy like ham from a diseased pig. He has a big beard, because nutsy people usually do. He talks to himself and acts sort of fervent. But there is not a God damn, fucking thing in this script that illuminates how he is supposed to be nuts.

What a bunch of horse ass. A load this big is usually found at the loading door of a Jack in the Box, not in a movie theater. Way to go, Cahill. Way to completely fuck up a chance to tell a modern day treasure hunt story. Two Fingers for King of California.

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Mark Serman of Sirius Satellite Radio

Good Luck Chuck is "A comedy gem! Dane and Jessica are hilarious"

Wow. He knows them by their first names. He must be important.

Filthy's Reading
Donald Westlake- What's so Funny?

Listening to
Preston School of Industry - All This Sounds Gas


The Searchers