Homeless men and the mentally ill are like sirens for prestige-seeking actors. Michael Douglas heeds the call of the latter in King of California. It’s “time to get back on that bipolar pony and ride,” someone says of Douglas’ character at one point, and Douglas does exactly that, hoping to ride it all the way to the Academy Awards. Douglas plays Charlie, a single father coming home to his 16-year-old daughter after a stay in a mental-health facility. Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood) is skeptical of her father’s stability, especially once he launches an expedition to find the lost treasure of a Spanish explorer who traversed their California suburb ages ago.
Charlie, given all the disheveled hair Douglas can muster, suffers from acute wackiness more than anything else. Aside from a brief, horrifying flashback that’s quickly swept under the rug, the movie only offers one real drawback to Charlie’s illness: he doesn’t wash his dishes.