Those in search of happy endings and maudlin moments may walk away disappointed from the extremely enjoyable King of the Corner
, a modest, often touching film fully equipped with some very big laughs. Aging salesman Leo Spivak (Peter Reigert) is coming to terms with his incredibly messy life; his career is dimming, his elderly father (Eli Wallach) is quickly fading, and his personal life is in shambles. Is Leo falling apart at the seams, or will this be his golden opportunity to take stock and turn it all around? Visiting universal themes like adultery, parenthood, and death, King of the Corner
jumps smoothly between sad and funny to incredibly uncomfortable as Leo faces life's daily ups and downs in the only way that he knows how--very awkwardly. The plot isn't so much about resolutions and answers as is it about the journey and finding a laugh here and there along the way.
You might know actor Peter Reigert from quirky sleepers like Local Hero and Crossing Delancey, his excellent turn in the intense Traffic, or his hilarious Donald "Boon" Schoenstein in Animal House. Many, however, may be surprised to find that his 2001-directed short By Courier was nominated for an Academy Award and that with this, his first full-length feature film, he delivers a breezy, well-packaged crowd pleaser. Reigert's efficient directing style keeps the story moving comfortably along while his sardonic screen presence and a terrific cast including Beverly D'Angelo (Coal Miner's Daughter), Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet), and Rita Moreno (West Side Story) all bring something to the table in roles large and small. Like reality, King of the Corner portrays life as it is: lots of lose ends, no easy answers, and every once in a while, very funny. --Matt Wold