Netflix has released The Polka King trailer. The film premiered at Sundance earlier this year and tells the true story of Jan Lewan (Jack Black), a polka performer in Pennsylvania who set up a Ponzi scheme that defrauded local residents by promising them a 12% return on their investment. In my review, I pointed out that despite a strong performance from Black, the film gets too wrapped up in Lewan’s personality so they fail to note what his scheme says about the American Dream and the lengths people will go to fulfill it.
Surprisingly, this trailer is pretty spot-on in that regard, showcasing Black’s energetic performance but not trying to sell the film as anything more than a colorful character who engaged in some criminal behavior. The question is if people will want to unwind by watching a colorful conman rip people off when they could just get that on the news right now. The Polka King, obviously, didn’t mean to be a reflection of the current President (it was shown at Sundance before Trump was even sworn in), but that’s how it stands, although Black’s Lewan is unsurprisingly a more lovable figure.
Check out The Polka King trailer below. The film hits Netflix on January 12th and also stars Jenny Slate and Jason Schwartzman.
Here’s the official synopsis for The Polka King:
Local Pennsylvania polka legend Jan Lewan develops a plan to get rich that shocks his fans and lands him in jail.
This exuberant tragicomedy recounts the remarkable but true story of the rise and fall of Polish émigré Jan Lewan (Jack Black), from striving tchotchke shop owner in the ’70s to the undisputed “King of Pennsylvania Polka” in the early ’90s. Lewan pursued the American Dream by any means necessary, fleecing investors and bribing officials to build a personal musical empire in what became the world’s only known Polka Ponzi scheme. Swept up by Lewan’s charismatic charm are his devoted wife, Marla (Jenny Slate), and his neurotic sidekick, Mickey (Jason Schwartzman).
Polka King stars Jack Black, Jenny Slate, Jason Schwartzman, Jacki Weaver, J.B. Smoove and Willie Garson. Directed by Maya Forbes and written by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky. Produced by David Permut, Stuart Cornfeld, Shivani Rawat, Monica Levinson, Wally Wolodarsky, Jack Black, Priyanka Mattoo.