All The King's Men Reviews

Top Critic
Trevor Johnston
Time Out
October 30, 2006
What should have been an incisive study of the American political scene turns out a lumbering celluloid white elephant.
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Stanley Kauffmann
The New Republic
October 26, 2006
The film isn't dreadful: it is just generally disappointing.
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David Denby
New Yorker
September 25, 2006
The director can't seem to find a natural rhythm for the movie -- it's portentous and vague at the same time.
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Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
September 22, 2006
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 | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Dana Stevens
Slate
September 22, 2006
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.
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
September 22, 2006
All the King's Men is full of bits that work; unfortunately, they never quite add up to a whole.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
September 22, 2006
It has a labored feel. The editing is choppy, allowing little of the film to flow naturally.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
September 22, 2006
All the King's Men is the noblest kind of film failure -- high-minded, literary, cautionary, well-cast and pretty well-acted.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
September 22, 2006
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 | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
September 22, 2006
[It] isn't going to win any awards for Law, a frantically hamming Penn or anyone else involved.
| Original Score: 1.5/4
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Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
September 22, 2006
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 | Original Score: 2/4
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
September 22, 2006
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 | Original Score: 1/4
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Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
September 22, 2006
It's too full of itself; it's too convinced of its own value to be much of any to audiences.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
September 22, 2006
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 | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
September 22, 2006
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 | Original Score: C+
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Noel Murray
AV Club
September 22, 2006
[Zaillian] has made a movie about monsters, not men, and in 2006, it's the men we most need to fear.
Full Review | Original Score: D+
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Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
September 22, 2006
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 | Original Score: 2/4
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Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
September 22, 2006
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-
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
September 22, 2006
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 | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
September 22, 2006
Watching All the King's Men's downward tumble makes for perverse fun, with the emphasis on perverse.
Full Review | Original Score: D+
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Richard Roeper
Chicago Sun-Times
September 22, 2006
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 | Original Score: 2/4
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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
September 22, 2006
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.
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
September 22, 2006
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 | Original Score: 2/4
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Scott Von Doviak
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
September 22, 2006
Penn delivers the most egregious Foghorn Leghorn impersonation since Dennis Quaid in Great Balls of Fire.
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
September 21, 2006
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?
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
September 21, 2006
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.
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
September 21, 2006
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 | Original Score: 2/4
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Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
September 21, 2006
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
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
September 21, 2006
Overthought, overwrought and thuddingly underwhelming.
| Original Score: 1.5/4
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
September 21, 2006
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 | Original Score: 4/5
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Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
September 21, 2006
Although there's a tremendous amount of firepower on-screen, much of it goes to waste, as Zaillian struggles to maintain momentum.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
September 21, 2006
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
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Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
September 21, 2006
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.
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
September 21, 2006
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 | Original Score: C
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
September 21, 2006
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
Top Critic
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
September 21, 2006
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 | Original Score: 1/4
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
September 21, 2006
All the King's Men has all the ingredients of thrilling political drama without actually being very dramatic.
| Original Score: 2/4
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Jan Stuart
Newsday
September 21, 2006
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 | Original Score: 3/4
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Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 21, 2006
It's appalling. Mostly because Penn is appalling.
Full Review | Original Score: F
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Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
September 21, 2006
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.
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Jon Meacham
Newsweek
September 20, 2006
All the King's Men is grounded in Huey Long's Louisiana, but the issues the novel so lyrically explores are universal.
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
September 20, 2006
Instead of being important, All the King's Men is merely self-important -- and pretentious and bombastic, but ultimately hollow.
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Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
September 20, 2006
All around him, Penn's costars retract in defeat.
Full Review | Original Score: C-
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Rex Reed
New York Observer
September 20, 2006
A sorry and misguided rehash of Robert Penn Warren's famous 1946 novel.
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
September 20, 2006
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 | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Michael Atkinson
Village Voice
September 19, 2006
Penn goes for larger-than-life, wrapping his pinched frown around an unintelligible Louisiana drawl and swinging his arms like an autistic evangelist.
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
September 18, 2006
Sean Penn demonstrates how a great Method actor can make the world's most unconvincing rabble-rouser.
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Richard Schickel
TIME Magazine
September 18, 2006
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.
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Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
September 13, 2006
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.
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Variety
September 10, 2006
Overstuffed and fatally miscast, All the King's Men never comes to life.