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King of the Corner (R)

Release Date: August 19th, 2005 (NYC-New Metro Twin) by Elevation Filmworks.
The Cast: Peter Riegert, Isabella Rossellini, Ashley Johnson, Eli Wallach, Rita Moreno, Jake Hoffmann, Harris Yulin, Frank Wood, Beverly D'Angelo, Eric Bogosian.
Directed by Peter Riegert.

BASIC PREMISE: Leo (Riegert) is a middle-aged father who is going through a midlife crisis involving his job and his family.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This film has a splendid ensemble cast full of likeable, talented actors. Eli Wallach gives a particularly good performance as Leo's ailing father. He steals every scene that he is in. There is also Jake Hoffman (Dustin Hoffman's son) as Leo's young assistant who might take over his job. Unfortunately, Peter Riegert's performance is not convincing enough to show the range of emotions that Leo goes through. Also, he has very little chemistry with his wife (Rossellini). Nonetheless, every actor plays an integral role in the complex plot--including Beverly D'Angelo as Betsy, Leo's high school crush whom he bumps into. This is not the kind of movie with a good or bad guy--even Leo's strict boss is just doing his job. The plot becomes complicated as Leo ends up sleeping with Betsy despite that both are married. The script is mixed with moments of sadness and humor, but with mostly humor that falls flat. The humor really picks up when Rabbi Evelyn Fink (Bogosian) shows up near the end and gives a very unorthodox and shocking eulogy. If only he had more scenes because he is very funny and memorable character.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: It is somewhat inspiring to watch a middle-aged man try to overcome his midlife crisis. Leo uses some of his father's advice, such as the importance of helping yourself solve your problems rather than relying on others. Ultimately, not all of Leo's problems are solved but at least he came to a realization about how satisfying his life is because he has a loving wife and daughter. Most of these themes were also explored in the movie In Good Company, especially when a younger guy threatens to take over Leo's job. Also, both have a subplot about the difficulties of raising a teenager. However, this film is rarely moving because a lot of it feels contrived and unoriginal, especially the sappy ending. In Good Company had much more subtleties, warmth, and profound insights about life. Unfortunately, this film feels like the reader's digest version of a solution to a midlife crisis.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: The contrived, sappy ending and not enough scenes with the hilarious Rabbi Evelyn Fink.


THE BOTTOM LINE: The talented ensemble cast along with a complex, engaging plot barely saves this film sinking with its contrived and sappy moments.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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