Joe the King - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Joe the King Reviews

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½ August 11, 2015
Well acted and riveting story, but very disappointing and "unfinished" sort of ending. Hard to believe they left it where they did.
November 21, 2014
True to life feel of a 14 yr old boy having to grow up with a dad that's an alcoholic and a mom that's not around. Val Kilmer as the dad and Ethan Hawke plays a teacher.
½ October 7, 2014
No one is born to be bad. What can you expect when Val Kilmer knows nothing but abusing his family?
January 20, 2014
In the end, Whaley opts to take the sentimental route, providing easy, crowd-pleasing answers to the serious questions he raises.
June 8, 2013
Why do I relate to these films so well .. Most people would rate this as shit .. I see through the harsh realities these youth face on a daily basis and see the beauty and charm that comes from any human being trying to live in any environment ..
July 10, 2012
Just watched this movie on ShowTime, very very good movie, after seeing it I want to get it
½ June 29, 2012
More honestly real than one hundred percent of the voluptuous decadence and masturbation crammed out of the anus that is today's Hollywood. A film worth watching because Frank Whaley had the courage to put himself as a man into his script. I typically don't enjoy films about kids, but this one is essentially excellent, completely sympathy-worthy, and simply very watchable. Enjoy.
December 3, 2011
Joe the King is a heartbreaking tale about a young boy, Joe Henry, who is forced to work illegally to help support his alcoholic father's gambling habits. Joe is picked on in school because his father works as the janitor. He is also picked on by a lot of the adults in his life (honestly, every adult in the film was utterly horrible - with the possible exception of Ethan Hawke's character) because of his father's habit of borrowing money and never returning it.

Things have become so dire that Joe often has to source his food from stolen candy boxes or from left-overs in the sink at work. Things are getting worse and worse, and something has to give. The turning point in this film centres around Joe breaking into his place of work and stealing a wad of cash. He spends most of it on records for his mother (who is an avid record collector, but whose collection was obliterated by her drunken husband) and stashes the rest of it. A gash in his leg is what gives him away, and his mother opts to send him to a juvenile detention centre as she has no time to watch after him and make sure that he does the right thing.

Noah Fleiss was fantastic as Joe. The majority of the film centres around Joe's relationship with his father, Bob Henry, and one of the more emotional scenes between the two occurs toward the end of the film just before Joe is taken to the detention centre. Kilmer gave a great performance as an alcoholic - he was a pathetic tiny man trying so hard to be big and tough. It was equal amounts of amusing and saddening. Some of the best scenes in this film involved both Fleiss and Kilmer - defnitely worth a watch for their performances if nothing else.
September 19, 2011
Clearly inspired by the influential and acclaimed French film "Les quatre cents coups", Joe the King is an equally very good film. Despite the harsh issues the film deals with, the film is charming and touching. Joe is a normal and good boy that sadly has been misguided through all his life, he hasn't been supported or loved enough by his parents, therefore he commits several bad actions. From the very first scene of the film, the character development of Joe is perfectly done, and fortunately he is surrounded by several other interesting characters played by some experienced actors.

Those experienced actors who worked in this film are: Val Kilmer, Ethan Hawke, John Leguizamo and Karen Young. They had clear supporting roles in this film, but they added their talent to this good little drama. It's worthy to mention as well Max Ligosh's brilliant performance as Joe's older brother.

The film has some ups and downs after its brilliant start, but it grows in emotions as the story flows, and by the end it was very satisfying, especially because of that beautiful and wonderful ending. I'm glad I watched it. It was a nice experience.
September 19, 2011
Clearly inspired by the influential and acclaimed French film "Les quatre cents coups", Joe the King is an equally very good film. Despite the harsh issues the film deals with, the film is charming and touching. Joe is a normal and good boy that sadly has been misguided through all his life, he hasn't been supported or loved enough by his parents, therefore he commits several bad actions. From the very first scene of the film, the character development of Joe is perfectly done, and fortunately he is surrounded by several other interesting characters played by some experienced actors.

Those experienced actors who worked in this film are: Val Kilmer, Ethan Hawke, John Leguizamo and Karen Young. They had clear supporting roles in this film, but they added their talent to this good little drama. It's worthy to mention as well Max Ligosh's brilliant performance as Joe's older brother.

The film has some ups and downs after its brilliant start, but it grows in emotions as the story flows, and by the end it was very satisfying, especially because of that beautiful and wonderful ending. I'm glad I watched it. It was a nice experience.
December 21, 2010
Excellent film. Joe the king is a great dramatic film just don't expect it to pick you up if you're feelin' down.
December 4, 2010
Odd that the "TOP CRITICS' hated this movie, but others, including the RT Community have a positive opinion about it. I also liked the film
Super Reviewer
½ June 6, 2010
What a depressing movie!? That poor kid! It really makes you wonder just how many kids are suffering that way on a daily basis. It also makes you appreciate what you've got.
½ December 3, 2009
Very believably done, the cast is very convincing and well acted by everyone, although Val Kilmer seems a little out of place. The overall feeling of the film is a bit depressing. A lot of the characters are unpleasant, but director Frank Whaley carefully gave them a human side as well. His direction it what makes the film work.
October 8, 2009
Joe the King is not alone in this crowded genre, and there's nothing about the film that raises it above the level of numerous TV movies of the week or forgettable theatrical releases. For every scene that works (such as Joe's awkward flirtation with an older girl at a roller skating rink), there are two that don't (like Bob's out-of-character "bonding" with his son or Mike's wanting to sleep in a closet to avoid his brother). And, especially when compared to something powerful and persuasive, Joe the King looks flaccid.
½ July 29, 2009
A slice-of-life about a boy growing up in the 1970s. He lives in a very working-class family where the father is either absent, abusive or drinking. Joe is the only one in his family who is trying to put it all back together but at the expense of his own work as a dishwasher and his school work. His attempts to help his family are often illegal like breaking into cars to get goods which he pawns for money. In turn he uses the money to replace his mother's record collection which his abusive father broke.

It's a pretty good movie. The acting by the kids is pretty impressive. These were either already street kids well accustomed with the word 'Fuck' and its multiple uses or were simply good young actors.

Val Kilmer is surprisingly good in this movie. He often is if the script is right. Ethan Hawke gives one of his usually good performances.
July 15, 2009
An above average drama. The performances were very well done but the problems with this film does lie in the fact that the director does mess up some scenes. He makes you feel the oppisite from what you are meant to feel from the scenes written in the script. But the acting do keep this film fresh and interesting.
½ January 10, 2009
It's been a while since I've seen it, but I recall it being rather weak. Noah Fleiss is a very attractive young man, but his performance here is lifeless and one-note. As is the story, for that matter. Scene after scene gets set up with real potential, and then nothing interesting happens. It's not a horrible movie, there's just not much to distinguish it from the rest of the independent coming-of-age genre.
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