It seems like it's Evan Rachel Wood week at the theatres. Wood co-stars with Michael Douglas in "King of California," a quirky sort of adventure film that culminates in the local Costco. Both Wood's films are independent, and quirky in a fun sort of way.
Miranda, 16, dropped of high school two years ago to support herself and pay the bills when dad Charlie ended up being locked into a mental institution. He's now out, and talking endless of tracking down the lost treasure of one of the Spanish missionaries that wandered around their neck of the woods (in Santa Clarita, California) in 1624, presumably hiding his gold coins and items in an underground cave. (Why would a missionary have coins? It's petty cash, of course...)
Miranda is convinced he's still as nuts as when he left two years earlier, still a hopeless and irresponsible dreamer, though when he takes her out and they find a stray gold coin, marked with the year 1624, she's less skeptical. They undertake the adventure wandering the countryside, no longer a wild land but covered in subdivision homes, golf courses, and the bane of their search: Costco.
"King of California" emerged at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and seems to demonstrate most of the tell-tale earmarks of an indie film. The casting uses a few names you've seen, but not too many, and in this case, there's not a glut of characters to begin with -- it's largely the relationship between Miranda and Charlie, the guy she struggles to remember to call dad. No fancy special effects, car chases, CGI, or explosions; rather, the film relies on its storyline to keep you engaged.
And the reliance is successful. The circumstance of Miranda having to learn to fend for herself are plausible, though not necessarily commonplace. She's got the traits of a girl forced to grow up before her time: few peer friends, a worrier complex, and a frustration with people (namely Charlie) who lack the will or motivation to take care of themselves.
Even the ending is in a true indie style -- there is one, sure, but it's not neatly packaged so even the most slow-witted movie-goer will "get" it. You're presented with a few possibilities of where their lives go from here, and it's up to you to decide if the glass is half-full or half-empty as to what would happen next if the credits don't start to roll. Worth searching for in your local artsy film house (or grab on Netflix if you must), but searching for it will help you bump into a quirky treasure, too.