cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

amazon.gif
Top Selling DVD     Books

BLU-RAY DVDs:
50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Robocop
Selma
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
Akira
Avatar
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Bambi
A Bug's Life
Cars
Chronicles of Narnia set
Coraline
Ghostbusters
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Ratatouille
Rio
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
combo
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE

OFCS

Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

 DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
Alice in Wonderland
Bambi
Beauty and the Beast
Bolt
Cinderella
Coraline
E.T.
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Pinocchio
Princess Mononoke
Ratatouille
Rio 
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy

CrankyCritic® movie reviews:
Joe the King

Starring Noah Fleiss, Ethan Hawke, Val Kilmer, John Leguizamo, Max Ligosh, Camryn Manheim
Written and Directed by Frank Whaley
no website

IN SHORT: Emotionally numbing, heavy duty flick for the arthouses. [Rated [R], 93 minutes]

Cranky tends to sound like a broken record at Oscar wannabe time of the year, 'cuz it's a well worn rule of thumb I use for evaluating "indie" movies: If the material is well written enough and well acted enough that the film delivers an emotional effect, even if you don't like that effect, then it has succeeded. The independent films, pretty much across the board, don't go for the happy ending route and definitely utilized higher quantities of brain power in their creation -- when you're working on a minuscule budget that's a necessity -- and most fail because they're too damned self-indulgent. That is not the case with Joe The King, written and directed by actor Frank Whaley, who called in some some star name friends to fill out the cast. Good writing will do that, though Cranky did feel that he had spent an hour and a half with ever increasing weights being placed on his chest, making it increasingly hard to breath, that's how emotionally affecting this movie is.

Set in the 1970s opening with a nine year old Joe Henry (Peter Tambakis) is a poverty level child in a family unit that is barely holding itself together. His father (Val Kilmer) is a drunkard and the janitor in the school Joe attends. Joe's humiliations begin in school; Joe is bare-assed spanked in front of his class by a vicious teacher (Camryn Manheim). It's established early that Joe is an outsider, with perhaps two friends to his name. He smokes cigarettes between classes and doesn't think twice about petty theft.

Five years later, dad is unemployed and hiding from debtors, all of whom use Joe to send "messages" to pay up. Mom (Karen Young) is working all the time. Older brother Mike (Max Ligosh) is doing his best to hold his own and find a life. 14 year old Joe (Noah Fleiss) is washing dishes in a local restaurant, eating scraps off the plates and stealing food to feed his brother. His father, in a drunken rage, destroys the only physical possessions that mean anything to his mom, her record collection. Are you getting that sense of an ever-growing weight on your chest?

Writer/director Frank Whaley's script is crystal clear -- you know in your gut that you're watching a kidlet who could be dead by 18. Petty thefts turn to grand larceny and all the conversation you will have afterward will center on the realization that the motivation behind all this kidlet's actions is a deep and unreturned love for his parents. I'll say no more than that.

All the grownup actors involved, especially Kilmer, are firing on all cylinders regardless of whether or not their characters are pathetic or desperate or sympathetic. Ethan Hawke plays the school guidance counselor John Leguizamo holds a substantial supporting role as a busboy stud in the restaurant where Joe works; the only adult male who watches out for the kid. That doesn't make him a positive character, it just means he's the only oasis of guidance in a world where everyone is drunk, scared, desperate ... you get the picture

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Joe the King, he would have paid...

$5.00

That's about as high as I'll go for films so perfect for the arthouse circuit. There may be a little bit of hope to be gleaned from the film's ending, but not enough to offset the emotional pressure the film, as a whole, exerts.

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.