All The Kings Men

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Starring: Sean Penn, Jude Law, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, 
Directed By: 
Rated: PG-13 for violence and Language 
Review Posted: October 11, 2006 

Final Grade: 

Do you ever remember in grade school when your teacher would quiz you on analogies with funny little things like this: “Puppy is to Dog as Kitten is to _______.” If your teacher now days was to ask you “Puppy is to Dog as Sean Penn is to _______” the last thing that you would insert in the blank is Politician. Maybe that is why the film, All the King’s Men doesn’t work as a film.

Sean Penn and Jude Law team up in this remake of a film by the same title. The film has been on the shelf for nearly a year now and finally saw it’s release date in September of this year. With that in mind, those Oscar buffs who remember Penn’s incoherent rant about “Jude Law is the hardest working man in Hollywood…” it should now make sense, knowing that these two actors had just collaborated earlier that year. The film chronicles the life of a young “hick” Louisiana politician who climbs his way up the ladder and becomes Governor. Wanting to create social change for the little man, he finds himself caught up in a battle of his own corruption the longer he stays in office.

While I have never agreed with Sean Penn’s politics, I have always respected him as an actor. Jude Law has done nothing but impress me over the years when it comes to both quality and quantity of films in the last few years. Also knowing that James Gandolfini was making an appearance was enough to make me head to a theater to check this film out. I went in expecting there to be outstanding performances. Knowing that this film had been shelved for nearly a year, I expected the problems to be riddled in storyline and plot issues. What I was surprised to find was the exact opposite.

The story line for All The King’s Men was actually fairly straight forward, coherent and even interesting. It was a little slow moving, but all in all I was impressed. Where I wasn’t impressed was the acting. Everyone involved in the film seemed to be trying way too hard, and came off as way too over the top. Jude Law tries way too hard to be the silent errand boy and James Gandolfini is simply wasted. Penn overacts his part so horribly he looks more like a kid with down syndrome trying to act out dramatic Shakespeare. His hands are waving all over the place, he’s screaming wildly and over accents every syllable he speaks. He was so over the top that he alone makes this film not work. Never mind the fact that after multitudes of tirades and tantrums Penn has spewed about the American Political system in the past, the way Penn plays this role it’s just very hard to see him as a politician. I’ve always tried to applaud Penn, grouping him in with actors like Johnny Depp and Gary Oldman as actors that I ‘ve always thought were great examples of “character actors.” I usually become so into their character that I forget that it is an actor playing a character in the film. In All the King’s Men, I couldn’t get over Sean Penn’s ego trip.

To make a long story short,save your money on this one, it will be out of theaters fast and no one will even remember it’s existence in a few more months. Leave it on the Rental shelves, take it off your netflix queue and just forget that it was ever there. Don’t waste your time on this one. It could have been a good film. Instead it is just a mess. 

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