Currently available on the streaming site is one of the funniest movies on Netflix of 2018, The Polka King. Thus far, with titles like Bright and The Cloverfield Paradox, 2018 original Netflix movies have been hit or miss, but The Polka King is a hit for fans of dramedies or true crime. The film is written and directed by the wife and husband team of Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky—the creative couple worked on previous movies together, including Seeing Other People and Monsters vs. Aliens—and the film features a stellar cast: Jack Black, Jenny Slate, Jason Schwartzman, JB Smoove, and Jacki Weaver.
Netflix’s The Polka King tells the story of Jan Lewan (Black), a husband, father, and the “King of Pennsylvania Polka,” and how he headed a polka Ponzi scheme. Jack Black’s Jan is portrayed as an ambitious Polish immigrant, that through owning a trinket shop and performing Polka, is trying to achieve the American dream. But something happens on the way to that dream and it’s an all too familiar theme, greed. Jan starts taking investments, including large sums of money from his elderly fans, and because he’s not properly registered, the investments are illegal.
Seemingly, his initial intentions of taking the investments weren’t with bad motives. But even when an investigator from the state Securities and Exchange Commission, Ron Edwards portrayed by Smoove, informs Jan that what he is doing is highly illegal, the local Polka legend continues to accept large sums of money.
As one might expect with a cast of quirky comedians, including a brief but hilarious appearance from Saturday Night Live’s Vanessa Bayer as Bitsy Bear, this film is funny, sharp, cheesy, and even though it’s tragically based on a true story, over-the-top ridiculous (but in a good way). Similar to Jack Black’s character in Bernie (also streaming on Netflix), even with his ethical flaws, it’s hard not to find Jan Lewan endearing.
Many consider this one of the best movies on Netflix centered on true crime, and with great performances, witty writing, and a fascinating story, it’s easy to see why. Jack Black is very entertaining as the Polka criminal. Per his usual, JB Smoove has a couple of scene-stealing moments. And Jenny Slate as Lewan’s wife gives a charming performance that entices sympathy for her character.
If you enjoy movies that take a humorous approach to true crime, films like Wolf of Wall Street and the above-mentioned Bernie, then you should get a kick out of this Netflix gem. With great writing, sharp direction, an arsenal of brilliant performances, and with several laugh-out-loud moments, The Polka King is one of the funniest 2018 movies on Netflix.