All the King's Men
Sean Penn delivers the greatest Foghorn Leghorn imitation of his career as Willie Stark, the rural populist who runs for governor of the great state of Louisiana on a pro-hick platform. And his arm-waving, red-faced, spitting Southern drawl and husky bravado is the only commendable thing--if such lampooning caricature can be called such--about this borderline incompetent movie. Writer/director Steven Zaillianís adaptation of Robert Penn Warrenís 1949 novel gets all the plot points right but without its political finesse. Jack Burden (Jude Law), the journalist scion of an affluent family lassoed into the charismatic Starkís inner circle, narrates this story of absolute power corrupting--you get the picture--as a knowing if frail man broken by a lost love (Kate Winsletís Anne Stanton), absent father, and a loving father figure (Anthony Hopkinsí Judge Irwin, a retired man with political sway) who very well may have a few skeletons in the closet. Burden carries All the Kingís Men into feckless melodrama, leaving Pennís Stark gesticulating wildly on his road from mad-as-hell idealistic commoner to kinda/sorta fascist--thatís not a joke, son, Zaillian is about as subtle as a prostrate exam. If somebody finds a credible point to this mess, please share it with the rest of us.