If you go to see this movie because you like Val Kilmer or Ethan Hawke, you're making a mistake. You won't get the typical flamboyance a la Kilmer, nor the masculine ruggedness you've come to expect from Hawke. Both actors put on weight and changed their look in order to portray absolute degenerates in this film, but that old trick doesn't work for these two. No matter how sloppy, drunk, or flabby these two get, they can't hide their Hollywood faces--they're just too pretty. Both are unconvincing, and when the two biggest names fail to produce, you know you've got a lousy product.

Joe the King is the sad story of a young boy trying to cope with his dysfunctional family in a poor, small town in the 1970s. Director and writer Frank Whaley's debut attempts to reveal the loneliness of adolescence by exposing the heart of a boy made tough by the harsh circumstances of his miserable family life. Set in upstate New York, the film follows Joe Henry (Noah Fleiss -- Josh and S.A.M.) as he deals with an abusive father (Kilmer) and a hapless mother (Karen Young). His only salvation is his fifteen-year-old brother, Mike (Max Ligosh). Together they comfort each other as they deal with each violent and horrific episode of family crisis.

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