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Rated 2.99 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
The Ponzi Polka
by Betty Jo Tucker

Jack Black is one of those actors who always make me laugh. The word “entertainer” comes to mind whenever I hear his name. That’s why I had high expectations for Polka King -- a film based on the ups and downs of a real-life polka king, Jan Lewan.

I thought this role would be perfect for Black. He gets to talk with a Polish accent, lead a polka band, sing catchy tunes, dress in outrageous costumes, fall in love with a beauty pageant winner, and suffer through hardships because of his illegal financial dealings. Lots of room here for both funny stuff and dramatic opportunities.

After watching Black deliver the goods in movies like School of Rock and Nacho Libre, I eagerly awaited his performance in Polka King. The poem below explains my reactions to this uneven Netflix offering.                 

He loves to do the polka dance.

He’s not afraid to take a chance.

People trust him with their dough.

They think he’ll make their profits grow.


It’s fun at first and for a while

he and his wife can live in style.

But Jan Lewan’s investment scheme

ends up to be a sad bad dream.


Jack Black plays Jan with lots of vim.

So does he fully capture him?

“Less is more,” the old saying goes.

Exaggeration causes woes.


I hate to write those words, dear fans.

I don’t like any Jack Black pans.

He’s one of our best funny guys.

That’s why this film evokes surprise.

Although disappointed with Polka King, I appreciate the way the film depicts how Jan’s positive attitude influenced people -- except for his mother-in-law, played with gruff gusto by Jacki Weaver. Also enjoyable is lovely Jenny Slate’s turn as Jan’s helpful and adoring wife, especially in the scenes depicting her attempts to be more independent. And Jan’s relationship with his best friend (Jason Schwartzman) comes across as quite genuine. Plus, I love the movie’s polka music!

Polka King reminds us that sometimes good people do bad things as well as how hard it is to resist temptation. 

A typical Ponzi scheme involves taking money from investors then paying them off with money taken from new investors rather than paying them from actual earnings. --- Amy Goodman

To dance is human, to polka is divine. --- K. D. Lang

(Released by Netflix; not rated by MPAA.)

For more information about Polka King, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.  

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