A destitute 14-year-old struggles to keep his life together despite harsh abuse at his mother's hands, harsher abuse at his father's, and a growing separation from his slightly older brother. Petty thefts for food grow into more major takes until he steals a cash box from the diner where he works. Although Joe uses the money to pay off some of his father's debts and to replace his mother's records that his father smashed in a fit of temper, Joe gets no thanks. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
The working title of the film was "Pleasant View" during pre-production. See more »
Although the film is supposed to take place during the 1970s, Joe is seen wearing a name brand underwear with the company logo on the waistband. This particular brand didn't produce that style until the late 1990s. See more »
Ever wind up watching an entire movie that stinks only because you keep hoping (against all hope) that it will get better, or at least have a point? Thus was the case for me with "Joe the King," a lethargic, pointless film that offers virtually nothing in the way of revelation or entertainment. I swear, people who praise this film must be trying to rationalize wasting their time on it.
After enduring this snoozefest, I just knew that Frank Whaley had never written or directed before. It was completely obvious. Whaley ruins his film with a first-draft caliber script and stale, unimaginative direction that even a film-school novice would laugh at.
Had the dialogue and direction been better, well, you'd still have nothing. Even a story about a miserable small-town kid with a crummy home life does not justify the slug-in-quicksand pace that squeezes the life from this film. I've enjoyed films before that develop slowly, but this one never develops. I kept thinking, "Pick...it...up!!!!!"
As if this movie needs more flaws, the acting bordered on the criminal. Again, no big surprise to discover (thanks to IMDB) that Ethan Hawke is friends with Whaley, as it's the only possible reason I could imagine he'd agree to be in this clunker. But don't worry. He doesn't try too hard. No one does. Val Kilmer works straight from the Lifetime Network 101 playbook of alcoholic fathers/husbands. He curses. He breaks stuff. He smacks his family around. He belittles them. And then, toward the end, he has one brief moment of lucidity where we're supposed to understand that he realizes he's a bad man. Who cares? And the kid in the title role might have been trying to convey hopelessness, but all he exudes is apathy.
Two closing thoughts: First, my wife watched the first half-hour with me, then opted to take a nap. She made the smarter choice, and I'm being serious. Second, if I'm already mad about wasting time watching the film, why did I waste more time writing about it? In the hopes that YOU wouldn't waste your time the same way. Seriously, avoid.
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