Picks and Pans Review: Kingfish: a Story of Huey P. Long
updated 03/20/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 03/20/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST
Busily working his way through the Big & Tall Man's wing of history (can William Howard Taft: Stout Presidential Timber be far off?)—John Goodman plays Long (1893-1935), the po' boy from Louisiana who became governor and senator and was cut down by an assassin even as he mounted a third-party run for the Presidency.
Goodman gives a volcanically voluble performance as the Dixie demagogue. But the movie sells Long short, flying through his checkered career with chaotic haste. The script repeatedly relies on the shoddy shorthand of telling and not showing, for instance bragging on Huey's legendary persuasive powers without ever providing an example. The only scenes with dramatic resonance involve Goodman's locking horns with a judge (Richard Bradford), from St. Landry parish, and later with F.D.R. (Bob Gunton again). Even there, a lack of context robs these encounters of their inherent tension.
This sloppily structured film is still fascinating, but only because it's fun to watch Goodman bulldoze over the bio's flimsy framework.