‘King Jack’ Avoids the Fetishization of Youth

GameStop, Inc.


Recently we’ve seen a number of outspoken voices on the internet espouse their undying love for pop culture artifacts from their childhood. It’s a fetishization of nostalgia that I believe is rooted in escapism. Youth is tenuous time for anybody. You have to deal with bullies, coming into sexual maturity with absolutely no clue how to interact with the opposite sex, and then there’s unyielding self-doubt in the ongoing search for yourself. Pop culture might give us a respite from those external forms of torment, and that’s what people are clinging to with such ferocity. King Jack, the feature length debut from writer-director Felix Thompson, doesn’t dive into escapism through pop culture, but focuses on the varied trials and tribulations of youth – with a real focus on the uglier side of growing up.

When we first see Jack (Charlie Plummer) he’s spray painting on a neighborhood garage, only to flee once he’s discovered by the home owner. What we’ll later discover is that Jack was tagging the garage door belonging to the father of Shane (Danny Flaherty), a local bully that torments Jack at every available opportunity. At home, Jack has to contend with his older brother Tom (Christian Madsen), who seems to enjoy tormenting his younger brother, as well as his mother Karen (Erin Davie), who struggles to keep her home in order with the demands of raising children and work. When Jack’s aunt has some health issues, his younger cousin Ben (Cory Nichols) comes to stay with him, though Jack doesn’t have much interest in spending time with his younger cousin. Though the two do bond over a game of truth or dare with Holly (Chloe Levine) and Harriet (Yainis Ynoa), their relationship is soon fractured when the cruel bullying of Shane violently divides them.

Thompson has written Jack as a sort of prototypical malcontent teenager. He’s guarded with his feelings, fearing that any form of self-expression might leave him open for mockery. Young Charlie Plummer perfectly encapsulates these varied emotions with a remarkably strong performance. At one point, Jack sends a shirtless photo of himself to the young girl he has a crush on. She then requests that he sends a picture of his lower half exposed, and he obliges only to have the photo presented to the other girls leaving his relentlessly mocked. It’s the perfect moment to present the undermining his confidence – not that he should sending pictures of his junk – in that the one moment he lets his guarded persona down it backfires in the worst possible way.

More than anything, it’s the looming threat of violence from Shane that drives King Jack. Shane is a character that many of us have encountered in our youth, a perpetual bully that needs little reason to explode in a rage of physical violence. When Shane’s brutality places both Jack and Ben in his targets, it causes a divide between the two – forcing Jack to choose between bravery and cowardice. No matter what he does, Jack will always be the object of Shane’s scorn. It’s a no-win scenario, and that realization is what Jack has to overcome in order to move forward with his life. Those acts of violence and torment that Jack and Ben are subjected to are truly harrowing to watch, as the unstable Shane is established as being ugly and unpredictable with his outbursts of physical violence.

Running at a brisk 80 minutes, King Jack fills its story with all the fraught moments of youth. That unease of being uncertain of yourself is encapsulated in its young lead, as he’s forced to contend with the scary aspects of the constant threat of physical violence and lacking self-confidence in the face of the opposite sex. Felix Thompson and his cast are able to find a real grace in these moments of ugliness and uncertainty. King Jack is the kind of work filled with intelligence and emotional honesty that can only come about when one is free from the fetishization of nostalgia.

King Jack
  • Overall Score


The debut feature from writer-director Felix Thompson, King Jack is a charming, harrowing coming-of-age tale about contending with bullies and the opposite sex.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Paul Crowder and ‘Boss’ Wooldridge Talk ‘The Blue Angels’ Doc – Interview

Director, Paul Crowder and Flying Ace, Greg “Boss” Woolridge talk about...

Eric Bana Talks ‘Force of Nature: The Dry 2’ – Interview

Eric Bana Returns for the sequel to ‘The Dry‘ in ‘Force...

Letitia Wright’s Talks about her Latest Film ‘Aisha’ – Interview

Letitia Wright’s latest film, ‘Aisha‘, a story about immigration, resilience, friendship...

Event News Event Reviews
Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ Takes You to A Whole New World at Segerstrom – Review

Disney’s Aladdin takes the audience on a thrilling chase and a wonderous place...

Dark Harbor Returns to Long Beach on The Queen Mary this Halloween

The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Returns to Long Beach for the...

It’s Showtime! ‘Beetlejuice’ is a Hit at Segerstrom Center of the Arts – Review

It’s Showtime! ‘Beetlejuice‘ is a Hit at Segerstrom Center of the...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Oscar De La Hoya Partners with El Rey for ‘Friday Night Fights’ – Interview

The Golden Boy himself chatted with us about Golden Boy Promotions...

Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Paralympian Swimmer Ahalya Lettenberger On The Road to Paris

Team USA Paralympian Swimmer, Ahalya Lettenberger is On The Road to...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – We’re DEMONS!

I'm sure it's just allergies. Cacti is notorious for pollen...

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse part something: Hermione and the Mini-gun pt 2

Have a lead salad instead!

Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse part ?: Hermione and the mini-gun pt 1

It can't fire more than 6,000 per minute!

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Roye Okupe Brings Authentic African Representation to HBO Max and Cartoon Network

Nigerian-American, Roye Okupe brings authentic African representation to HBO Max and...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...