Netflixing: The Polka King

in #tv2 years ago (edited)

This is a classic story, and I'm sure you all know it.

It's the story of an immigrant who came to United States as a young man, believing in the American Dream.

Who endured poverty and hard labor as he looked ever upward, just trying to live a life of decency.

But who, in order to seize his chance for a better life, went down a thorny road and found himself embroiled in unsavory acts.

Until one day he found himself at the head of a criminal empire, hurting people who were just as vulnerable as he once was. And all this flying in the face of his Roman Catholic beliefs. But he persisted in his wickedness, believing it was for the good of his family, though, in the end, his family suffered most for his misdeeds.

The story of his life is the story of ourselves, and the film that captures it is now on Netflix. I am sure you all know the film of which I speak. And this is the movie I have the privilege of reviewing today.

This is The Polka King, starring Jack Black.

Separating History from Fiction

The Polka King is based on the true story of Jan Lewan, a celebrated musician who moonlighted as a scam artist.

As the top dog of the roaring Pennsylvania polka culture of the 1990s, Jan had everything a budding artist could dream of: a loving wife, legions of fans, several day jobs, and a Ponzi scheme worth millions of dollars.

The film follows his exploits from his early days selling shares of his business without proper documentation, to the time he rigged the Miss Pennsylvania competition, to his stint in prison and beyond.

Naturally, the film is highly sympathetic to Mr. Lewan's side of the story, depicting him as a caring husband and father who used his ill-gotten gains to bless not just himself, but also his employees and friends. The film also points out that nobody forced his investors to trust him with their money, and that these "victims" fell for promises of 12% and 20% returns was testament to their own greed.

Nevertheless, he did defraud a lot of old people out of their life's savings---to the tune of almost five million dollars---and that ought to be kept in mind even when watching a movie that romanticizes his life story.

Still, it cannot be denied that he lived a remarkable life, attaining both fame and infamy through his various talents. He rubbed shoulders with celebrities, lived a semi-high-octane lifestyle, and lived a life whose story was worth embellishing.

The Portrayals

To say that this movie was based on Jan's life, however, is a bending of the truth.

This movie was actually based on another movie: an earlier documentary about Jan Lewan called The Man Who Would Be Polka King. The current film is more a dramatization of that documentary than it is a direct adaptation of Mr. Lewan's story.

Meaning that the accuracy of the portrayals here need to be taken with double the dose of salt.

However, the portrayals themselves are delightful.

Jack Black's take on Lewan is a sprightly, happy-go-lucky entrepreneur who loves America and wants his chance at the big time. That he proves to be a capable con artist is more of a happy accident, though his eventual outing is entirely his own fault, as he cannot keep himself from spreading his money around, especially when it comes to his loving wife.

Marla Lewan (as played by Jenny Slate) is a devoted wife who never stops believing in her husband (until it is too late). Although a bit hapless, she is perhaps the only force capable of holding back Jan's greatest antagonist, in the form of her own mother, Barb.

While generally unpleasant, Barb is also the only voice of reason in the group. She can't prove that Jan is lying, but she knows something's up. She might have been a completely unlikable character, but by the end she manages to justify her presence.

But the star of the show just might be Jason Schwartzman, playing Mickey Pizzazz

Mickey is Jan's longsuffering friend, who wants money and fame even more than Jan, but who is held back by his inhibitions.

Their chemistry together is genuinely endearing, as Mickey learns to let go of his fears, even though, in retrospect, he probably should have held on to a few of them.

But Remember this is a Sundance Movie

It would be a mischaracterization to call The Polka King a comedy.

This film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017 and saw no mainstream theatrical release before landing on Netflix. And like most Sundance films, it sees comedy more as a state of mind and less about telling jokes.

Which is not to say it isn't funny. The lengths that Jan is willing to go to in prolonging his fraud are ridiculous to the point of near impossibility. But this movie is a docudrama, and the inclusion of a few comic actors does not change that fact.

My Judgment

The Polka King is a surprisingly good movie.

And yes, that means its goodness is a surprise. There is little in the way of spectacle, or laugh-out-loud moments, or extreme emotional stakes. But as a dramatization of a colorful criminal's life story, it is surprisingly entertaining.

At the moment, it is a Netflix exclusive. And while I probably wouldn't pay to go see it in a theater, it's availability as a streamable title makes it a perfect bite-sized movie to take in on a weekday after work.

Give it a go, if I've piqued your interest.

Previous entries in the Netflixing series:

Past Years

TV Shows

  • Little Witch Academia
  • Movies

  • Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
  • Strictly Ballroom
  • Sort:  

    This is perfect story and everyone should see this movie at least once.

    Than you.

    I must watch it then.

    Thank you so much for this excellent and detailed review @talanhorne

    Steem on...and stay blissful...

    After your review I am very much curious to watch this movie.

    Thank you @talanhorne and Have a great day.

    Such a wonderpul and interesting post again by @talanhorne sir...
    Actualy....I'm realy like watch comedy movies...ur this review is best sir...

    I love the classic tale very much and the story was very nice.
    Thanks for sharing my dear friend @talanhorne

    I like to read quality content as this, the Polka King looks like a good comedy to watch in a weekend with a beer. Regards

    This is The Polka King, starring Jack Black.
    One of the best comedy actor. Outstanding review of The Polka King-

    wow, very very fun comedy, i really like post @talan-horne.

    good post friends, and stories that bring inspiration to success always

    The Polka King
    Watched, Analyzed, Reviewed, Wrote the Review & Published. Excellent work done.

    good story my friend .. and I also really like the name of my friend's story ..

    thank you :)
    giphy (1).gif

    This is valuable post and excellent writing with hopefully tv series .thanks for sharing.

    Upvote Resteem

    Great review, I saw this just a few days ago. It's OK, not great. But it makes for easy watching.

    Plus, I love Jack Black. He uses his patented fake accent for everything, closing my eyes and I am transported back to when I would watch Nacho Libre.

    I also got the Nacho Libre vibe from this movie, though, as you implied, that may be mostly due to Jack Black's performance.

    Nice movie it looks like to watch in this weekend :)

    Polka king was great wondering movie to me. Its great title and meaningful story included. Glad to watch on 3D. Thanks for inspire me.

    Excellent tv series, Great post. @talanhorne
    Upvote Resteem

    Excellent review this is incredible one :)

    This is very interesting article and this is a great netflix.thanks for sharing.

    ((((((( Resteem Service )))))))

    @talanhorne really liked the way you expressed all the scenes just by reading I am so excited to see the acting and really I'll watch this out.... Thanks for suggesting @talanhorne

    it was the much awaited review finally its here looks interesting thanks a lot for sharing

    Very good 👍👍👍👍

    @talanhorne, The Polka King is classic story with some comedy scene indeed. Prefer to read story tale again. Nice writing.

    I have not heard before. I trust your recommendation. I'm going to watch now. I also have an interest in the writings. I do upvote but my Steep power is low: ((( @talanhorne

    Great!!! You are awesome @talanhorne DQmPvziZjvqGVmWF87b7gtwyebBQx7gThMdiDN8BRSVHfsS_1680x8400.pngDQmcvNokteCBaxb5TtRvyqSnNwMApkD3pLf7Pi9UkHCKGpk.gif

    First of all, thank you for your efforts. it is interesting tv series and great work.And you are very good at writing articles.
    100% like and resteem

    Excellent review of this month it has to be the best

    Congratulations @talanhorne
    Now you are in the MinnowsPower Loyalty Member List...!!!

    Exceptional movie update & nice review of it...!!!

    10% Upvoted by @MinnowsPower

    The Polka King is a surprisingly good movie.
    This is enough to download the movie and watch it :D I will try to get the torrent! Thanks friend! Excellent review you have done!


    your great review on this looks amazing thanks a ton for sharing this

    This is valuable post. very frightening movie and good i think.
    Have a great day.

    As you said ...i am now turning on netflix ;)

    liked your judgement very cool movies had that kind of recommendation

    @talanhorne - Sir without you, i'll never heard about this movie... It looks an interesting movie to watch... Nice review of it Sir...


    images (2).jpg

    Ha ha such a fantastic movie of Netflix series. Very smart and funny character here. For me feel like lot of fun here. Anyway Great movie.

    You need to have a twisted kind of humor to really like this movie. I liked it because it is so unbelievable. Jack black can make anything funny though.


    impressive movie review & excellent writing about it. nice post @talanhorne

    reteemed & upvoted & commented & followed

    it looks nice from the post and the excitement you shared wow

    I feel like Jack Black wouldn't be as funny if he wasn't fatty. This would come off as someone doing a really bad accent.You know, jack black is wierd, and goofy, kinda lame. I always wonder why he's famous. Then I watch one of his movies, and I remember. This dude has so much fucking fun with his characters, it's impossible to not have fun with him. He's not winning any oscars, but damnit, jack black is entertaining as hell.

    now is the best time to watch it thanks for recommending

    Very good post.
    Upvote amd resteem

    Hello @talanhorne,

    Extraordinary good article with incredible review of 'The Polka King'.


    Seems like another good one to get through buddy !Sure will get some amusement and will be worth the time !

    Looks a great movie for sure thanks buddy for sharing this

    Great TV series . wonderful experience @talanhorne

    For your post propagation.

    I hadn't even heard of this. I'm putting it on my list to watch.

    Great and amazing post.
    Nice concept!!
    I loved your post sir.

    Thanks @talanhorne sir for sharing this post.😊

    Upvoted + Resteemed your post.

    This review makes me want to see this movie i am pretty sure i will have a good time :D
    thanks for the info and upvoted ;)

    posting a good friend ,,, I resteem yes ,,, please enter my blog

    I love this story

    Nice bro 👍

    Very good post,, I like it

    Really you have suggested me a nice series @talanhorne now after I complete seeing prison Break I will surely try this out... Thanks a lot for such a wonderful suggestion!!

    Jan, who went after the Pennsylvanian polka dancer's dreams, earned a lot of money with promises and even made friendship with Pope John Paul II. However, after the illegal decisions that started with the informal bonds, The film Jack Black is the place to say that he shouldered himself very well for a successful and cute movie but it may have been remarkable that he was in real life. @talanhorne

    Such a wonderpul and interesting post again by @talanhorne sir..A very important topic Thank you for sharing.."!!

    1st one is the best one!!
    its too good!!

    Its nice to see that Jack Black is getting work again ......

    The greatest way to describ this movie !!

    Most important topic.It's really great motion picture of Netflix arrangement. Extremely shrewd and clever character here.I also feel like Jack Black wouldn't be as funny if he wasn't fatty. This would come off as someone doing a really bad accent.You know, jack black is wierd, and goofy, kinda lame.

    Yah... wonderfull story...
    really great to share.
    i'm enjoying your post

     2 years ago Reveal Comment
     2 years ago (edited)Reveal Comment