The Polka King is based on the true story about local Pennsylvania polka legend, Jan Lewan, who develops get-rich quick schemes in order to enjoy the finer things in life. Starring Jack Black as Jan Lewan and Jenny Slate as his wife, Maria, the film depicts a time in Lewan’s life when his gift shop business is failing. Lewan takes it upon himself to start building investors, with himself as the brand. Using the money from unsuspecting victims, he creates, among other things, a recording label and a travel agency. Even when the government comes knocking on his door, warning him to “close up shop” on his illegal dealings, Lewan is determined to keep the money flowing.
Fans of polka music might enjoy the songs, and some of the acting, particularly that of Jack Black as an immigrant looking to make his fame and fortune in America. Black gets it down, right to the accent, the larger-than-life dreams, the big personality, and even the extensive hand gestures when he talked. Jenny Slate gave a passable performance as his wife. However, whether due to the writing or just her interpretation of her character, there seemed to be a lack of connection with her husband, both in on-screen chemistry as well as in the relationship itself.