A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
He is straight out of the Navy. He travels to Corpus Christi, takes a motel room and attends church. After the service, he asks the pastor for a hug. The pastor hugs him and says, "I don't believe I know you." The young man says his name is Elvis: "My mother told me about you. Her name was Yolanda. She told me your name." This is not the sort of thing an evangelical minister wants to hear when his wife's name is not Yolanda.
Going to church was not quite the first thing Elvis (Gael Garcia Bernal) did in Corpus Christi. First he met the preacher's 16-year-old daughter, Malerie (Pell James). Now he moves on both fronts, seducing the daughter while playing a devout churchgoer for the father. Minister David Sandow is played by William Hurt as a man who was once a sinner, but as he tells Elvis, "That was before I became a Christian. Before I met my wife."
William Hurt can be so subterranean we don't know where he's tunneling. Here he seems to be one thing while becoming its opposite. The last thing he wants in his life is a child from an early affair. On the other hand, Elvis makes a good impression. The pastor's son Paul (Paul Dano) sings with his band at church services, and at school is the leader of a campaign to introduce Intelligent Design into the curriculum. But we sense, and maybe the pastor does, that the energy Paul is channeling into Christian activism could turn against the church in a flash. Paul and his band perform a song one Sunday that enrages the pastor. Not long after, the son goes missing. The pastor, his family and the congregation pray for his safe return, but the Lord is not in a position to answer their prayers.
At some point during this set-up, we realize "The King" will not be a movie about the hypocrisy of the pastor. Pastor David is about as good a man as is possible, under the circumstances, although there is room for improvement. And Elvis is not a blameless victim.