I have no idea who Michael Cahill is, other than that he wrote the screenplay for and directed this movie. Though it’s not a great movie, I did find myself thinking about it when I woke up in the middle of the night. What I liked was its sense of topography. It’s about a teen-aged girl and her crazy dad (capably played by Michael Douglas), who hatches a scheme to dig up a cache of Spanish gold buried somewhere under the L.A. suburbs. Equipped with maps and surveying equipment, he starts retracing the trail of some Spanish conquistador, reluctantly aided and abetted by his sane and responsible kid. They find rocks on a golf course with etchings that match the marks recorded in the Spaniard’s journal, they use a rented backhoe to dig up potsherds in a new housing development, they mark off distances inside the Costco store. The crazy dad ends up jackhammering a hole in the Costco display floor and, using scuba diving equipment he finds in the store, he plunges into an underground river in search of the buried treasure.
It sounds like some kind of slapstick adventure, but the idea of remapping the territory of a legendary old Spanish version of California still laid out right underneath the engineered suburban grid really appealed to me. That and Evan Rachel Wood, playing the daughter, who gave a remarkably expressive performance in what’s intended to be a very square role.