The Polka King: Netflix Needs To Try Harder

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Based on a true story. Jan Lewan, played by Jack Black, is the self-styled King of Polka, however when the bills start to pile up he turns to committing wide scale fraud in order to maintain his reputation and keep his family comfortable.

I can’t help but compare this to Bernie the Richard Linklater directed true crime film wherein Jack Black played another oddly eccentric criminal. However where that film had exciting stakes this film just seems to keep the same pace never really ramping up to anything, and then he gets caught. It is underwhelming.

Moreover, Black’s performance is okay, but he has certainly been better. Usually, I would deem it heresy to say anything bad about the singing ability of Black, but here he is particularly not good. I don’t know if it is the repetitive nature of the songs themselves, but whenever it cut to one of his concerts I actively felt off put and couldn’t wait for it to be over.

By far the best thing about this film is Jason Schwartzman, who excels in offbeat comedy films dark and otherwise. Schwartzman made this film for me, and whenever he was on-screen it was a delight. Honestly the film needed more of him, Black was doing all he could to keep the film together, but it wasn’t enough: they should have given Schwartzman more to do.

Overall, a very middling film that is not a great showing for anyone other than Jason Schwartzman who can’t be brought down by the films mediocrity

Pros.

Schwartzman

Black is trying

It is has promise

Cons.

It lacks stakes the crimes all feel very much on the same level

Black singing polka music is off putting

It is painfully slow  

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