I Served the King of England
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Despite the 1997 death of longtime friend and Closely Watched Trains collaborator Bohumil Hrabal, 1960s-era Czech New Wave filmmaker Jirí Menzel enters into a postmortem collaboration with the famed author in this pitch-black comedy detailing the shrewd rise of an ambitious waiter. All diminutive manservant Jan Dite (Ivan Barnev) ever wanted was to be filthy rich and to preside over his very own hotel. As a young man coming of age in the 1930s, Jan was preoccupied by beautiful women and awestricken by the fact that anyone, be they rich or poor, would bend to their knees to pick up a coin. With… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The world it depicts is too dangerous and too lovely to classify."
‑ Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
"Most movies of this kind would lead towards redemption of sorts. Menzel prefers quiet introspection to loud conversion, and that's both a strength and weakness of this movie."
‑ Peter Howell, Toronto Star
"[A] delightful, lighthearted satire, a quirky story of fantasy, wealth and pretty women with exposed nipples."
‑ Jean Lowerison, San Diego Metropolitan
"In the end, I Served the King of England is doomed to fail by comparison. Ironically, they are comparisons that the film itself keeps making."
‑ Jeff Vice, Deseret News, Salt Lake City
"[It's] surrounded by and infused with the potential for meaning but feels like a lark: a bit of nothing whistling past the graveyard of 20th century European history without a thing to do but indulge itself."
‑ Josh Rosenblatt, Austin Chronicle
"The movie is filled with wonderful moments, set pieces of absurdity, and a richness of humor. But underneath, Menzel and Hraba have a wry and sometimes painful story to tell of the history of their country in the 20th century."
‑ Jonathan F. Richards, Film.com
"I Served the King of England plays like a combination of Life Is Beautiful and Forrest Gump."
‑ Larry Ratliff, San Antonio Express-News
"This inventive, charming picture-perfect picaresque tale of an ambitious young Czech rascal scrambling in the pre-Nazi and wartime eras marks a welcome and victorious return for Jiri Menzel, whose last major conquest was his 1967 Oscar-winning debut, C"
‑ Doris Toumarkine, Film Journal International
""I Served the King of England" is like an endless feast, featuring one spectacular course after another. Somehow, you never get so full that you want to push yourself away from the table."
‑ Rob Thomas, Capital Times (Madison, WI)
"Working from a novel and script by Bohumil Hrabal, director Jiri Menzel again achieves a seriocomic triumph, as he did with his Oscar-winning 1966 adaptation of Hrabal's Closely Watched Trains."
‑ Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun
"Tasty enough but inoffensive even when it should offend, provoke, startle."
‑ Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"The pseudo-sensuality is annoying and the supposed absurdism and satire are flimsy."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
"Amelie meets The Pianist in I Served the King of England, one man's surreal journey through 30 years of Czech history."
‑ Robert W. Butler, Kansas City Star
"Celebrates the pleasures of life while acknowledging its tragedy and absurdity... Its attitude might be described as good-natured fatalism."
‑ John Beifuss, Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
"There's a mystical quality to King of England, a political satire that softens its barbs by locating them in the middle of a fable."
‑ Chris Hewitt (St. Paul), St. Paul Pioneer Press
More reviews for I Served the King of England on Rotten Tomatoes