The King of Marvin Gardens
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Dreams die hard in wintry Atlantic City in Bob Rafelson's downbeat character drama. Depressive deejay David Staebler (Jack Nicholson) tends to his grandfather as he philosophizes on late-night Philadelphia talk radio. When his huckster older brother Jason (Bruce Dern) calls out of the blue one day, David travels to Atlantic City to see what his latest easy money scheme is. Along with his former beauty queen companion Sally (Ellen Burstyn) and her pretty stepdaughter Jessica (Julia Anne Robinson), Jason plans to open a resort on a small Hawaiian island, insisting to an initially skeptical… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Admirers of director Bob Rafelson's previous feature, Five Easy Pieces, will be stunned by the tedious pretensions of his newest effort."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"Bob Rafelson's The King of Marvin Gardens is a perversely satisfying movie -- it works after going out of its way not to -- and a very eccentric one."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"A flawed masterpiece full of menace, surreal moments and obscure dialogues, with the city photographed in all its desolate, decaying beauty ..."
‑ Philip French, Observer [UK]
"The wintry Atlantic City is brilliantly evoked; the firecracker dialogue is a joy, and the final, chaotic denouement is genuinely unexpected."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
"Criminally underrated with two great performances from the lead males."
‑ Kim Newman, Empire Magazine
"The film is talky and often abrasive, but it sticks in the mind."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Rafelson's kind of poetic realism, an accuracy in the treatment of unexpected settings, looked like quality to some in Five Easy Pieces two years back. Now it looks like the most pretentious of tired clichés."
‑ Roger Greenspun, New York Times
"A haunting, beautifully acted tale of impossible dreams and lost hope."
‑ Allan Hunter, Daily Express
"[A] taxingly morose, intermittently interesting reunion between the director and star of the tremendous Five Easy Pieces."
‑ , Daily Telegraph
"A minor-key marvel."
‑ Simon Kinnear, Total Film
"An odd, unsettling movie overall, vague in its characterisation and narrative, dotted with bewildering asides and lacking any real warmth or humour."
‑ Tom Huddleston, Time Out
"The film is well worth seeing, but the real attraction is the stunning depiction of Atlantic City."
‑ Sarah Cronin, Electric Sheep
"A cult classic about fading dreams that has curiously improved with age."
‑ Charlotte O'Sullivan, This is London
"Introspective and self-conscious, it's a chill offering that struggles to find its own voice."
‑ Adam Lee Davies, Little White Lies
"The King of Marvin Gardens reminds us of the diversity and dynamism of the New Hollywood movement. And how odd it is that a largely forgotten film should feel so utterly unforgettable."
‑ Emma Simmonds, The List
More reviews for The King of Marvin Gardens on Rotten Tomatoes