Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 101 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 12+. The main character is released from prison and tries to turn his life around, but his former involvement with drugs is a recurring plot element; some brief violence also results in the death of one of his protégées. Largely fine for young teens, especially because the main message is one of hard work and clean living resulting in success.
Based on a true story, ‘Life of a King’ ties its entire plot into the game of chess, arguing that any decision in your life now can affect whether you win or lose down the road. The tidiness of that analogy means the film never really veers off-message, but the lead performance from Cuba Gooding Jr. is a solid one.
By Roxana Hadadi
Cuba Gooding Jr. is one of those actors who seemed to disappear after his Oscar win, and while watching “Life of a King,” it’s hard to understand why. He’s charismatic and amiable, a good mix of stern and warm. He has a kind of wiseness and wariness in both his eyes and the downturn of his frown. And he’s ultimately the best part of “Life of a King,” which otherwise is tied too strictly to its chess-is-life comparison and isn’t gutsy enough to present any surprises at all.