Le roi de la polka (2017) Poster

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Overall a pretty solid movie
edg012313 January 2018
Basically everything about this movie was about average. The acting is fine, the characters, while sort of bland, are interesting enough. The story is good, the writing is good, and so is the directing.

But there are some things that fall flat. For example, the cinematography, for the most part, was bland. Every shot lookedthe same and felt the same. However, I thought the lighting was well done. Also, some of the perfomances felt a little off. But, I do believe that Jenny Slate and, especially, Jack Black were able to carry the film and make it more fun to watch. Although this movie is listed as a comedy, there really is little comedy to be found. It's not that the movie is necessarily unfunny, it's just that there are no jokes or humorous situations. I did find myself smiling sometimes, not because it was funny, but because there are some fun or satisfying moments in the movie.

For every negative this movie has, there is a positive that slightly evens it out. While it does leave some to be desired, this film is pretty solid and enjoyable. If you are thinking about seeing this movie, I would recommend it. Just don't go in with too high of expectations.
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Not great, but not the atrocity depicted in some of these reviews.
steviegjd15 January 2018
This is not a great movie. It is caught in a time warp. I love Jack Black. But, when he is out of control, the movie can go off the rails and that happened here. This movie has a similar vibe to Bernie and Nacho Libre, both of which were better movies. This would have been a better film if his character was played straight, as opposed to the goofy character in The Polka King. The real Jan Levan stole real money from real people. He wasn't a sweet misguided immigrant. The story deserved a better vehicle for its telling. I do, however, find it ironic that a number of the super critical reviews here are by people who cannot spell, don't know how to use proper punctuation and have bad grammar. Draw your own conclusions.
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Not even a good TV movie
courtjes13 January 2018
Knowing the real people, the real town, this movie falls flat on its face. It gives a ridiculous portrait of Lewan as naive and kind and generous instead of the calculating criminal he became in fleecing old people of their life savings. The mother in law is way too over the top in your face. The wife is virtually a non entity. It is a boring, awfully acted, awfully produced picture that used a Rhode Island location instead of the more realistic Pennsylvania. Thankfully its not in the actual movies where one would have to buy a ticket.
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janetswainston13 January 2018
Firstly, this movie has some great credentials. Experienced writers who know what they are doing. But these same writers also directed and that's where this thing falls flat.

Jack Black, while not a favourite of mine, is usually so on point with his comedy that it even makes me laugh. Jenny Slate is bland as Marla and Jason Schwartzman is so beige in his performance that he might as well be invisible.

The lines were delivered without much emotion or finesse, which is strange and unexpected from these talented folks. The lip synching to the songs was so off, you could tell it was Black's voice but his lips were slightly ahead or behind on the songs.

This was flat. Flat as a pancake.

If I could give it no stars, I would. Avoid this movie and tell Netflix to get better material.

Oh, and John Candy and Eugene Levy did this schtick years ago on SCTV and it was hysterical and funny. They will always be the Polka Kings to me. This movie was an insult to their comedy.
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An Absurd And Fascinating Story
KJ Proulx13 January 2018
I've always enjoyed watching films with Jack Black as the leading man, but his career has been pretty hit or miss in terms of good and bad content. Recently with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, he's been having a solid year, but I've been waiting for his classic performances to return. Not since films like High Fidelity, Shallow Hal, or School of Rock have I truly found myself loving him. That being said, I loved how he was committed to his role in the recent rendition of Jumanji and The Polka King only continues his recent devotion to acting. This is a film that completely came under the radar for me, but it's a pretty solid surprise. Now streaming on Netflix everywhere, here's why I think you should check out The Polka King.

Exploring the craziness that ensued when one man wanted to create a so-called "Empire," The Polka King follows Jan Lewan as he does his best to find investors for his company, in order to tour the world, making tons of money. The only issues are that his touring hardly have him breaking even, while his investors continue to invest money, having him owing millions of dollars and spiraling out of control. More than anything, this was simply a fascinating watch, especially when having the knowledge that it's a true story. Polka itself isn't very interesting to me in terms of art mediums, but there was something about this film that hooked me from beginning to end.

From humor to drama, The Polka King has it all. When Lewan is down on his luck, he enjoys finding the best in every situation and that makes for quite a few hilarious scenarios and I found myself audibly laughing on multiple occasions here. Jack Black, as I mentioned already, is a fantastic talent in term of comedy and he doesn't disappoint here. Jenny Slate as Lewan's wife is terrific as well and they share a strange chemistry that I was sort of surprised by. On top of these two great performances, I found myself loving Jason Schwartzman's contribution to this film as well, and I haven't really been blown away by any of his work in the past, so that's saying something from me.

I may be slightly biased when giving my recommendation here because I'm the type of person who loves the meshing of multiple genres. When Comedies and Dramas are mixed together to make films like off-beat movies like 50/50 or Safety Not Guaranteed (just to name a couple), I feel that it's more relatable. Not everything in the world is dour and depressing and not everything is cheerful, so a nice blend of the two is always what draws me in more. The Polka King does a great job at making you laugh, but you also feel terrible for this guy, who steals everyone's money, but his heart's always in the right place.

In the end, this is one of the better films to be released on Netflix in a while and I recommend it to those who're looking for a quick watch. At a breezy 90 minutes, this movie gives you comedy, drama, life lessons, and hope. There's not much more you could ask for from a movie like this. The one downside is that you can sort of predict where the film's going, even if you're unaware of the true story. It's the type of movie that's very solid and worth a watch, but won't ever be up for awards or even remembered for that matter. That's a shame because it's a nice little comedy that I believe deserves some attention.
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Did not meet expectations
guyzradio13 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I remember Jack Black's previous projects Nacho Libre and School of Rock as enjoyable. Based on his appearance on Stephen Colbert the night before the film's release, I assumed The Polka King would be similar. Unfortunately, the film failed for me on multiple levels.

Most aspects of the film fell "flat," a term used liberally in other reviews. Black's forced and unnatural Polish accent constantly got in its own way. Whether an attempt to accurately portray a real person, or a caricature, it wore out quickly.

Further confusing matters is it's a story about a polka band, but there wasn't much polka music. But wait...that's because it's REALLY a comedy about a Ponzi scheme, in which the band plays a minor contribution to the plot. But wait...it's not that funny, either.

Overall, the film left me wondering what it was attempting to do. Formulaic plot, over-the-top or under-developed characters, a question of accurate portrayal of Jan Lewan, etc. Catch it on streaming if you must. Be prepared for a letdown.
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Great Movie
sherryhodges17 January 2018
If you're a Jack Black fan, you'll love this one. Great writing, great music, great comic timing. Jack Black tells his stories with heart. Wonderful!
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Nothing funny in this Polka King
Daniel14 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is that kind of movie that you are already know what will gonna happen with the protagonist because is based in a real story. I expected to see more interesting and funny thing about this Polka King guy. This guy ruined the life of a lot people, and the movie that seems not to be a big deal. I know that was not to suppose to be a depression drama movie, but there is no so many thing funny about Jan Lewan ( the Polka King). It would be better if they had included some fake stories in order to the Polka King seem to be funnier than he really is. When I saw the thriller, I didn't expected a great movie, I thought would be that a silly comedy movie that make you laugh a little bit with some funny scenes. But I don't remember any funny scene in this movie.
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Good cast, decent movie.
JangoFettsHead14 January 2018
I watched this movie because I knew Jack Black & Jenny Slate were both starring in the film (who I both very much enjoy), and it ended up being nice cast in all. However, that is where this movie excels, the cast. The story was, to say the least, not very interesting, and the only reason I kept watching was the reason I started watching in the first place. I also think the humor misses. I did not find myself laughing as much as I usually do whenever I am watching Black. I think the cast did the best with what they were given, and like I mentioned before, they were the best thing about the movie.

Watch this movie if you really want to, but if you do not, you will not be missing out on much.
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Black Brings A Bizarre Reluctant Criminal To Celluloid Life...If You Like Black This Works.
AudioFileZ13 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Just because you have a soft spot for Jack Black you may bite on this one. Just because Black finds the supposed real character he's playing here doesn't necessarily translate to a Jack Black fan. Now, I think these axioms are definitely in the mix here but, if you really, I mean really, like Jack Black he can bring you in. Bring you in to a fairly pedestrian story with a decidedly lesser character in his past performances. Black can make a movie when he creates a character. It's never been for everyone, although several of his creations have really transpired many tastes and demos. This is more of insider Black flick. It's filmed with colors and cinematography as tacky as the role he's bringing. It's part of the charm if you're in otherwise it looks like a movie of the week. Since it is what the aim is it fits.

Now here's the thing. Jan Lewan is a lovable character. He is the American Dream in a portly lovable character. He somehow believes the end justifies the means to an extent that perches him on a precipice where he's on the edge. He's really not much different than a Wall Street hustler except he actually seems to believe he'll end up not just on top but a hero to all those who believe, and invest, in him. This creates a tension that the comedy just can't trump mostly because you want it all to work out for everyone, especially Jan. As things keep going the underlying tension is hard to deny. Whatever Jan has done you just can't hate the man. As silly as it is the house of cards comes down to a Mrs. Pennsylvania contest. Jan fixes the pageant and his whole empire crumbles. The scandal of the pageant is the end. It sucks the core of the man out of the man. Now Jan wants to pay for his past and when he's arrested he's actually glad. This is because he can't keep up the lie.Going to prison isn't the vindication pure and simple he's looking for. It's complicated. He's attacked and even in that Jan see's some justice. Jan hits a low when still incarcerated his wife divorces him. Even in ultimate defeat Jan perserveres and lives to make a comeback. Fact truly is stranger than fiction. In spite of his corruption and all the man rises...And, so far hasn't been attacked, or murdered, by fleeced investors. I'd say Black does an odd-ball story the odd-ball justice which, as much as is possible, explains it. Not for everyone for sure, but another character Black breathes celluloid life to in a way few can.
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"Get in there, we got some polka to do!"
classicsoncall13 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I first became aware of this film back in the summer of 2017 after my own polka dance instructors stated that they were called by Jan Lewan to appear in a movie about his life being filmed in Rhode Island. Their names are Rich Labanowski and Hilda Ellis, and though they took part in a dance scene, I wasn't able to catch them in the picture; they may not have made the cut. Rich was a Harvest Moon pairs champion in the polka category in 1960 and appeared with his partner on the Ed Sullivan Show.

I think for the most part, this was a fairly credible representation of the career of Jan Lewandowski (Lewan for short), covering his heyday in the field of polka, followed by his involvement in a major financial scandal that ruined many people. With Jack Black in the lead role, one naturally expects a comedy treatment, and though there are some humorous moments in the picture, it's more a serious story about a man who allowed his passion for music and investing get the better of his personal judgment. The one thing that comes through more than anything else is Lewan's indefatigable optimism and faith in God to point him in the right direction when he realized he was getting in way over his head.

In the middle of all this, Lewan's wife Marla (Jenny Slate) enters and wins the Mrs. Pennsylvania Beauty Contest under questionable circumstances, adding another layer of ambiguity to Lewan's character. It seems as if all the good things Lewan touched were ultimately brought down by his unwitting faith in a higher power to get him out of any kind of jam. Some no doubt will view Lewan as the ultimate con man, and he was that to be sure, but I don't think you'll ever experience a con man with a more positive attitude about life and where it could take him if only the breaks went his way.

The 'real' Jan Lewan makes an appearance over the closing credits, and one could very well question why someone like Jack Black was selected to portray the title character. There's not much of a physical resemblance, Lewan in fact appears quite professional in front of an orchestra. The close of the picture brings the story of Jan Lewan more or less up to date in real time. You still have time as I write this to book a 'Final Tour to Poland' at JanLewandowski.com, as well as shop at his on line gift store. Needless to say, and in spite of Jan Lewan's resolve to go straight, you might want to be careful about booking that dream vacation.

My only real gripe with the picture, if you want to call it one, is the choice of title. Followers of polka in the United States know there's only one 'Polka King', and that title goes to eighteen time Grammy winner in that category - Jimmy Sturr from my home town of Florida, New York. I haven't seen Mr. Sturr yet to ask him what he thinks about the movie, that's something I can get back to you on at a later time.
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