All the King's Men


 from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

In most calendar years this would be the annual big-budget, overhyped contender for many Razzie awards, but I really can't see this beating out another even worse Hollywood remake, The Wicker Man.

And that's a shame, because this is the kind of film that truly deserves Razzies. It manages to incorporate just about every bad element of Hollywood filmmaking. Some examples:

1. It's an inferior, unnecessary remake of a film which was considered a classic.

2. It was cast with stars instead of actors. Tony Soprano, Jude Law, and Kate Winslet don't even seem to realize that they are supposed to be in a film about Louisiana. Winslet and Law have rich American "r's," drawn-out and exaggerated, as one might hear eavesdropping on an imaginary plane between Minneapolis and Dublin. Law and Winslet not only struggle with their half-Southern, half-Midwestern accents, but their character interpretations are shallow and boring, although those characteristics seem to be Jude Law's specialty, now that I think about it. Of all the major actors in the film, only Patricia Clarkson sounds like she's from any place on the globe within 500 miles of Louisiana. And she probably would have found a way to screw up the accent for this movie except that she actually is from Louisiana and it just came pouring out.

3. The central performance is all strutting arrogance with no emotional core. Sean Penn, normally a fine actor, turns in a performance of such superficial and theatrical bombast that it would embarrass Bill Shatner.  Richard Burton, in his foulest and most drunken condition, had more subtlety than this. Forget Burton. It must be the hammiest performance since Arnold the Pig was featured on Green Acres. In all fairness, though, I have to say that the film is more interesting when Penn is on camera than when the focus shifts away from him to the subtler, but also more boring, Jude Law.

4. One word: voice-over.

The film never achieves a moment of sincere, poignant drama except when Dr Lecter is on screen. Hopkins didn't make any effort at all to sound like he was from Louisiana, but he did understand that the story needed emotional resonance, and he tried to find the human center of his character. Unfortunately, he lacks sufficient screen time to carry the film.

Worst of all, after all the histrionics and bluster and melodrama have evaporated into the closing credits, we come to realize that the film didn't have anything to say, or even an interesting way to say nothing.



  • "The Making of All The King's Men" featurette
  • "An American Classic": Featurette on Robert Penn Warren, the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, All The King's Men
  • "La. Confidential: On Location with All The King's Men": A look into Louisiana where the film was shot
  • "The Legend and Lore of Huey Long": This documentary investigates the colorful politician that provided the inspiration of the character Willie Stark
  • "Shake Hands With the Devil"" featurette with the cast
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Ending


Kate Winslet does a nude scene. She's naked, lying on her back, but nothing is exposed except the side of her hips.

The Critics Vote ...

  • British consensus: one and a half stars out of four. Mail 2/10, Telegraph 2/10, Independent 4/10, Guardian 2/10, Times 4/10, Sun 5/10, Express 4/10, Mirror 4/10, FT 6/10, BBC 2/5.

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a D. It has nice production values, but so what? It is difficult to come up with any reason why one should watch it.

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