Sundance Review: Jack Black Was Born to Play THE POLKA KING
I have a love-hate relationship with Jack Black. I love it when he acts in smaller independent films because he always plays interesting and fun characters and ends up giving great performances. But when he stars in these big silly studio films, I just don't have any interest in them. He just comes off as being fake Jake Black in those studio movies and it seems like wasted talent, but he makes the big bucks off them, so... ya know...
At least he does go out of his way to make these small great indie films! That says something about him. I had the chance to be his new film at Sundance called The Polka King, and no joke, this is a role he was born to play! He gave a wonderfully fun performance as he played a real-life person named Jan Lewan, a famous Polish polka musician from Pennsylvania.
The film is based on the wild true story of the rise and fall of Polish émigré Jan Lewan (Black), "from striving tchotchke shop owner in the ’70s to the undisputed 'King of Pennsylvania Polka' in the early ’90s. Lewan pursued the American Dream by any means necessary, fleecing investors and bribing officials to build a personal musical empire in what became the world’s only known Polka Ponzi scheme. Swept up by Lewan’s charismatic charm are his devoted wife, Marla (Jenny Slate), and his neurotic sidekick, Mickey (Jason Schwartzman)."
Whether you're a fan of Black or not, no one can deny that he was awesome in this role. It's one of the great performances of his career and listening to him excitedly sing polka music is just hysterical fun. There's so much energy and excitement in this movie, and it's the kind of energy that only Black could have really brought to the role.
Schwartzman was also great in the film. He's one of those actors I enjoy watching in movies. The only problem is he doesn't get enough movie roles! People need to hire him more! As for Jenny Slate in the role of Jan's wife, she was fantastic, but the scene stealer in the film was Jackie Weaver, who was absolutely hilarious in the role of Jan's disgruntled mother-in-law. She just made the entire theater roll with laughter.
I definitely recommend taking a chance on this one and watching it. Not only is the acting great, but it tells such a crazy and wild story that proves truth is stranger than fiction.