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Joe the King (1999)

3.5 of 5 from 45 ratings
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Actor Frank Whaley 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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1999 Sundance Film Festival Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award #2

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