King of California Movie Poster Image

King of California



Quirky dramedy mixes humor and mature themes.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 93 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

While breaking and entering is an unconventional -- not to mention illegal -- form of bonding between fathers and daughters, the theme of the film is to love and trust your parents, no matter how crazy they might seem.


A disturbing flashback shows Charlie trying to hang himself on a chandelier.


Charlie flirts with a female police officer, who is later shown leaving his house early in the morning. He kisses her and smacks her on the rear end. Miranda attends a "swingers" party, but no swinging is shown.


A couple of "f--k"s, plus "s--t" and "a--hole."


Costco is prominently featured, as is McDonald's; eBay and Volvo also appear.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Charlie and Pepper smoke cigarettes; Charlie drinks alcohol alone; Miranda is told she's drinking a "virgin" cocktail at a party, but she later feels dizzy and throws up.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this indie drama features mature themes about mental illness and parent-child relationships. The main character is a manic depressive who has just been released from a mental institution, and his 16-year-old daughter has quit school and works double shifts to support herself and her dad. There are a few curse words (including a couple of "f--k"s), a little smoking and drinking, one brief kiss, and a disturbing image of a suicide attempt.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Charlie (Michael Douglas), a California jazz musician who's just been released from a mental institution and returned home to live with his teenage daughter, Miranda (the always-exceptional young actress Evan Rachel Wood). Ever since she was a little girl, Miranda has known how to take care of herself -- and her manic-depressive dad. Instead of attending high school, she works double shifts at McDonald's to pay the bills. But Charlie has more exciting plans for his new freedom than finding a job. He embarks -- shiny metal detector in hand -- on a mission to find the Spanish gold that he's certain a particular conquistador left buried nearby. It doesn't take long for Charlie to convince Miranda to join him on his exploits, which lead to a suburban Costco that's supposedly right on top of the gold.

Is it any good?


Michael Douglas is charming and convincing as a mentally unstable man who loves his daughter. He and Wood mesh well on screen -- their characters' emotional needs and vulnerabilities are always on full display. Regardless of whether Charlie and Miranda uncover the long-lost treasure, their elaborate scheme to look for it is heartachingly tender to watch.

Douglas, like many other actors who've reached his level of acclaim, can obviously be very choosy about the roles he accepts. Most A-list actors would probably prefer not to star in a directorial debut, but Douglas' unpredictable character in KING OF CALIFORNIA makes it clear why the Oscar winner would take a chance on newbie director Mike Cahill.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why Miranda supports her dad's quest. Should she have tried to stop him? Is theirs a typical parent-child relationship? What other movies and TV shows can you think of that have featured similar situations?

  • Families can also discuss product placement. Costco and McDonald's are prominently featured in the film. Did that add to or detract from the story for you? Why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 27, 2007
DVD/Streaming release date:January 29, 2008
Cast:Evan Rachel Wood, Michael Douglas, Willis Burks II
Director:Mike Cahill
Studio:First Look Pictures
Run time:93 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some strong language, mature thematic elements and brief drug references.

This review of King of California was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bymsharpton April 9, 2008

I think this movie funny, but not appropriate for kids over 13

Evan Rachel Wood and Michael Douglas do a great job in this film. It would be a great movie if they would have left out the (f) word. It only has it 1 or 2 times, but that is 1 or 2 times too many for me.
Kid, 8 years old June 30, 2011


good movie
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism