Joe the King (1999)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Coming-of-Age, Family Drama  |   Release Date - Oct 15, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Jason Clark

Frank Whaley's directorial debut is prime proof that sometimes actors should stay in front of the camera, especially as evidenced in this dreary, unrelentingly muddled account of teenage delinquency. The film seems more interested in its murky details and endless parade of needless cameo performers than in truly developing its frustratingly opaque lead character, who still fails to make an impression by the end of the picture. Val Kilmer is woefully miscast as the resident drunken dad, and the movie never ceases to show us the amount of weight Kilmer gained for the role by focusing on his stomach virtually every time he appears. This is the kind of movie that substitutes ugliness for dramatic truth, a method trumped in the past by many great films about misguided youth (especially Francois Truffaut's The 400 Blows). Once in a great while, Whaley presents something interesting, but mostly the film is a wallow in unpleasantness, from which he rarely offers a way out.