I wouldn’t want to be a King in New York, well, I wouldn’t want to be in New York period!
Written By: Charles Chaplin
Directed By: Charles Chaplin
I have discussed in the past that I love Charlie Chaplin silents and am not fond of Charlie Chaplin talkies. A King In New York does nothing to change that opinion, if anything it serves to reinforce my stance. When all is said and done A King In New York isn’t funny nor is it all that biting of a satire. It’s full of obvious jokes that miss their mark and satirical targets that are too easy and are attacked too directly and in not so funny fashion.
Yet, for some reason A King In New York was considered anti-American when it was made and because of that it wasn’t released in America until 1973. I really don’t understand that, A King In New York does take on the HUAC hearings and McCarthyism along with TV’s growing influence, but it does so at such a low level that it’s highly inoffensive. Another feeling I have on Chaplin is that he is great when using slick and subtle social commentary, usually found in his silents, but he is completely off his game when he bumbles through heavy handed and obvious social commentary, often found in his talkies.
The worst part of A King In New York is that some moments could be funny but those moments lack any sort of worthwhile set-up so the punchlines end up falling flat. The entire third act is a failed punchline, a horrendous failure at that. I had to fight the urge to fall asleep at numerous times, the third act drags on and on and on and ends up mind numbingly boring. There are also a few instances where Chaplin tries for the physical comedy that made him famous, but it doesn’t work in A King in New York. When he uses it in A King In New York it feels forced and choreographed, Chaplin isn’t engendering natural laughs he’s going for manufactured laughs, but he ends up with zero laughs.
When the material isn’t that smart in a satire you have to fall back on how funny the movie was. A King In New York wasn’t funny in the slightest, I didn’t laugh once throughout the entire movie. If a satire isn’t smart and it doesn’t make you laugh then you are looking at a bad movie period. If you want to keep your love affair with Chaplin alive then avoid A King In New York, if you are a fan of good movies then avoid A King In New York, just avoid this movie.