Joe the King (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

Joe the King (1999)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Actor Frank Whaley (from Swimming With Sharks) makes his directorial debut with this film about coming of age in the 70's. Joe The King made its premiere at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, where it also won a screenwriting award. Joe is a nine year old boy (Noah Fleiss) who doesn't play with other children. Embarrassed that his father (Val Kilmer) is a janitor, Joe unsuccessfully tries to keep it a secret. Joe's father is also an abusive alcoholic who beats his wife and destroys her things (including her record collection). Taking his life in his own hands, Joe begins working as a dishwasher in a restaurant. He uses his salary (and more that he steals from the cash register) to help himself and his family, including paying off his unemployed father's debt and replacing his mother's record collection. Eventually Joe is caught and sentenced to a juvenile prison. Everyone takes Joe for granted, including his parents, who don't even come to see him on his one day of freedom. The film also stars Ethan Hawke as a guidance counselor.

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Karen Young
as Theresa
Camryn Manheim
as Mrs. Basil
Benjamin Styx
as Little Ray
Linda Key
as Mrs. Williams
Rob Bergenstock
as Young Mike
Michael Taylor
as Man in Jerry's Apartment
Lori Eastside
as Woman in Jerry's Apartment
Kate Mara
as Allyson
Lyn Nagel
as Jenny
Laura Ligosh
as Fooseball Girl
Jack McNamara
as Mr. Dawson
Christopher Wynkoop
as Mr. Margolis
Anthony Todisco
as Kenny Orzo
Mitchell Fleiss
as Cop No. 1
Danny Wiseman
as Ticket Taker
Guy Griffis
as Old Man
P.J. Pesce
as Detention Security
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Critic Reviews for Joe the King

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (5)

The film is so steeped in resentment that it's not able to pull back and let us see the boy behind the shield of his misery.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Coming-of-age movie with mature themes, lots of profanity.

July 12, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Even with warts and all, "Joe the King" is a very worthwhile drama.

April 21, 2014 | Full Review…

An uncompromising but wonderful film that reinforces the saying 'Never judge a person until you've walked in their shoes.'

October 5, 2005 | Rating: 4/5

A very tough, very real film, anchored by the memorable work of the two leads.

December 5, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

An excellent piece of entertainment. The cast is undeniably brilliant.

September 19, 2002 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for Joe the King


What a depressing movie!? That poor kid! It really makes you wonder just how many kids are suffering that way on a daily basis. It also makes you appreciate what you've got.

Todd Smith
Todd Smith

Super Reviewer

Joe the King Quotes

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