out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
The Emperor's Club
Starring: Kevin Kline, Rob Morrow|
Director: Michael Hoffman
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: November 2002
Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4
If you're looking for a movie that appeals to the whole family - from
kids to grandparents - without sex, violence, special effects or lots of action
- a film that celebrates what's good, rather than exploiting what's bad - this
is for you.
According to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, "A man's character is
his fate," to which St. Benedict's Academy for Boys adds, "The end depends upon
the beginning." Those are concepts that Classics professor William Hundert
(Kevin Kline) has lived by. His story begins with a flashback to 1976, when the
cocky, rebellious son of a U.S. Senator made a brash entrance into his class.
Sedgewick Bell (Emile Hirsch) is obnoxious, not unlike his father (Harris
Yulin), but he's also bright - and challenging. Determined to inspire the lad,
Mr. Hundert involves him in the school's annual Mr. Julius Caesar contest, which
is staged as an intellectual tournament. Bell responds and excels, only to be
discovered cheating in the final round. 25 years later, the now-grown Bell
(Steven Culp) is a powerful corporate leader, yet he's never come to terms with
his loss. So he stages an ironic Mr. Julius Caesar contest re-play at which the
sage, now-retired Mr. Hundert will officiate. While Neil Tolkin's
platitude-laden screenplay, based on "The Palace Thief" by Ethan Canin, and
Michael Hoffman's direction never achieve the emotional involvement of "Dead
Poets Society" or "Mr. Holland's Opus," Kevin Kline's brilliant, low-key
performance propels the drama, along with a sharp, funny turn from Emile Hirsch.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Emperor's Club" is a philosophical,
provocative 8, exploring the meaning of integrity and offering an insight which
is particularly relevant to contemporary society.
Copyright © 2002 Susan Granger
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