• PG-13, 2 hr. 8 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Steven Zaillian
    In Theaters:
    Sep 22, 2006 Wide
    On DVD:
    Dec 19, 2006
  • Sony Pictures

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All The King's Men Reviews

Trevor Johnston
Time Out
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What should have been an incisive study of the American political scene turns out a lumbering celluloid white elephant.

Full Review Source: Time Out

October 30, 2006
Stanley Kauffmann
The New Republic
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The film isn't dreadful: it is just generally disappointing.

October 26, 2006
David Denby
New Yorker
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The director can't seem to find a natural rhythm for the movie -- it's portentous and vague at the same time.

September 25, 2006
Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
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All the King's Men was suspended in editing limbo for nearly a year, and the final result only makes the mind reel at what it could have been carved from.

Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Original Score: 1.5/4

September 22, 2006
Dana Stevens
Slate
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It's Zaillian's overdirection that cooks this whole mess into a flavorless gumbo. He never shows you something just once when he could show it twice and never leaves a point unhammered home.

Full Review Source: Slate

September 22, 2006
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
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All the King's Men is full of bits that work; unfortunately, they never quite add up to a whole.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 2.5/4

September 22, 2006
Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
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It has a labored feel. The editing is choppy, allowing little of the film to flow naturally.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 1/4

September 22, 2006
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
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All the King's Men is the noblest kind of film failure -- high-minded, literary, cautionary, well-cast and pretty well-acted.

Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel | Original Score: 3/5

September 22, 2006
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
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Crawford showed us a man who sold his soul to do good and then, soulless, found himself incapable of resisting evil; Penn gives us a smart actor tearing into an awards-baiting role.

Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Original Score: 1.5/4

September 22, 2006
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
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[It] isn't going to win any awards for Law, a frantically hamming Penn or anyone else involved.

| Original Score: 1.5/4

September 22, 2006
Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
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Failures on the scale of writer-director Steven Zaillian's All the King's Men are as rare as falling sequoias, and they make a noise even if no one's in the woods to hear them.

Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Original Score: 2/4

September 22, 2006
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
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It's the kind of picture that is so eager to celebrate its self-importance and social significance, it suffocates under its own seriousness.

Full Review Source: Miami Herald | Original Score: 1/4

September 22, 2006
Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
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It's too full of itself; it's too convinced of its own value to be much of any to audiences.

Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle | Original Score: 2/4

September 22, 2006
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
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Sean Penn's work here is so mesmerizing, so intense, so guaranteed to put him front and centre when Oscar reads out the nominees, as to almost obscure the multiple failings of the misguided movie around it.

Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Original Score: 2.5/4

September 22, 2006
Tom Long
Detroit News
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Ungainly and bloated with an unearned sense of self-importance, All the King's Men is nevertheless worth watching for Sean Penn's mesmerizing performance as a corrupt politician who exults in his own dirty ways.

Full Review Source: Detroit News | Original Score: C+

September 22, 2006
Noel Murray
AV Club
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[Zaillian] has made a movie about monsters, not men, and in 2006, it's the men we most need to fear.

Full Review Source: AV Club | Original Score: D+

September 22, 2006
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
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All the King's Men is obviously a movie that has been so rejiggered and downsized, in length and intelligence, that its guiding principles have been sacrificed to the marketplace -- a fate not unlike that of its blustery antihero.

Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press | Original Score: 2/4

September 22, 2006
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
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Instead of bringing this story to bustling, brilliant life, Zaillian and company make it feel as if it belongs behind a glass case in some museum.

| Original Score: C-

September 22, 2006
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
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No use getting sore that one art form trumps another. It's not the first time an outstanding book became a ponderous film.

Full Review Source: Denver Post | Original Score: 2.5/4

September 22, 2006
Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
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Watching All the King's Men's downward tumble makes for perverse fun, with the emphasis on perverse.

Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News | Original Score: D+

September 22, 2006
Richard Roeper
Chicago Sun-Times
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All the King's Men is miscast. The soundtrack is awful. The storyline is confusing. The cinematography is too slick and pretty, when we should be bathed in a sultry, sweaty, sticky, gritty atmosphere.

Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 2/4

September 22, 2006
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
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The unfocused story is so bereft of any clear sense of period or location that the political melodrama sometimes seems to be taking place inside a cigar box.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

September 22, 2006
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
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All the King's Men is a big, important awards-season special with one glaring problem: It doesn't have anything urgent or even interesting to say.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 2/4

September 22, 2006
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
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In the end this murky remake functions mainly as a plain-wrapper setting for a fancy piece of acting that gets lost in a void. Who needs it? Who needed it in the first place?

Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal

September 21, 2006
Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
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We never quite know what Willie Stark does stand for, aside from the fact that we're repeatedly told he's a man of the people. Penn's performance has the opacity of solid brick.

Full Review Source: Salon.com

September 21, 2006
Claudia Puig
USA Today
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All the King's Men aspires to be a profound commentary on political corruption, but it's more of a vehicle for scenery-chewing by Sean Penn.

Full Review Source: USA Today | Original Score: 2/4

September 21, 2006
Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
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These characters and their effect upon each other are so poorly developed that it seems as if large chunks of the plot are missing.

| Original Score: 2/4

September 21, 2006
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
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Overthought, overwrought and thuddingly underwhelming.

| Original Score: 1.5/4

September 21, 2006
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
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An intricate, subtly rewarding narrative whose uncompromising nature and undeniable moral seriousness make it far from business as usual, even in the ever-decreasing world of quality Hollywood filmmaking.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 4/5

September 21, 2006
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
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Although there's a tremendous amount of firepower on-screen, much of it goes to waste, as Zaillian struggles to maintain momentum.

Full Review Source: Arizona Republic | Original Score: 3/5

September 21, 2006
A.O. Scott
New York Times
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Like an electioneering candidate, Steve Zaillian's version of All the Kings Men makes a lot of promises but fails to deliver the goods.

| Original Score: 2/5

September 21, 2006
Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
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All the King's Men hasn't been directed so much as over-directed, although the result, when you make an effort to filter out all the film school pyrotechnics, is an honorable run at Robert Penn Warren's classic novel.

Full Review Source: Washington Post

September 21, 2006
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
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Penn is given very little to do, after the first half hour or so, except connive and exhort and flail his arms. If you were to plot his character arc on a graph, it would mostly resemble a flat line.

Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor | Original Score: C

September 21, 2006
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
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In essence, a wild soap opera disguised as a political allegory, it's a movie, with its over-the-map performances, that is worth catching only for the inadvertent laugh or two.

| Original Score: 2/4

September 21, 2006
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
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Watching scene after scene linger and expire in this haplessly faithful version of the 1946 Robert Penn Warren novel, it's impossible to tell what compelled adapter-director Steven Zaillian to address the material in the first place.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 1/4

September 21, 2006
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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All the King's Men has all the ingredients of thrilling political drama without actually being very dramatic.

| Original Score: 2/4

September 21, 2006
Jan Stuart
Newsday
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In its best moments, All the King's Men exhorts us to sit back and reflect on the dark choices we are all capable of making in the name of power.

Full Review Source: Newsday | Original Score: 3/4

September 21, 2006
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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It's appalling. Mostly because Penn is appalling.

Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Original Score: F

September 21, 2006
Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
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If ever there was a wrong man for the job of committing to film this Democrat idealist and thug, it's the fastidious Steven Zaillian.

Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly

September 21, 2006
Jon Meacham
Newsweek
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All the King's Men is grounded in Huey Long's Louisiana, but the issues the novel so lyrically explores are universal.

Full Review Source: Newsweek

September 20, 2006
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
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Instead of being important, All the King's Men is merely self-important -- and pretentious and bombastic, but ultimately hollow.

September 20, 2006
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
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All around him, Penn's costars retract in defeat.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: C-

September 20, 2006
Rex Reed
New York Observer
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A sorry and misguided rehash of Robert Penn Warren's famous 1946 novel.

Full Review Source: New York Observer

September 20, 2006
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
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Those familiar with the novel will undoubtedly agree that reading it is a more satisfying experience than watching this disappointing film. One expects more -- much more, in fact -- with cast of this caliber.

Full Review Source: ReelViews | Original Score: 2/4

September 20, 2006
Michael Atkinson
Village Voice
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Penn goes for larger-than-life, wrapping his pinched frown around an unintelligible Louisiana drawl and swinging his arms like an autistic evangelist.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

September 19, 2006
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
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Sean Penn demonstrates how a great Method actor can make the world's most unconvincing rabble-rouser.

Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture

September 18, 2006
Richard Schickel
TIME Magazine
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Zaillian's movie is much more a reimagining than a remake, and it's much more faithful to the tone of the novel, which is by no means easy to duplicate.

Full Review Source: TIME Magazine

September 18, 2006
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
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One suspects, however, that Zaillian and a vast team of producers and executive producers that includes political consultant and pundit James Carville believe they are making a serious commentary on American politics. It comes closer to kitsch.

September 13, 2006
Todd McCarthy
Variety
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Overstuffed and fatally miscast, All the King's Men never comes to life.

Full Review Source: Variety

September 10, 2006
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