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Queen of Knives - Film Review

During 2020, I had the pleasure of getting to review King of Knives. The movie has stuck with me for years, with its crazy, flawed patriarch and lovable, hilarious family. Something about the film never really left my mind - it’s like the characters were people that I knew. Needless to say, I was so excited when I learned that there was a sequel - recently released in March of this year (2024)! Even more of an honor when the pr company reached out and asked if I’d be willing to review the latest release. Um, how fast can I say yes?! It was a thrill to connect with this story again, and to see what everyone’s been up to. Below are my thoughts - I hope you enjoy!


From bougie to the boroughs, our favorite crappy family has returned, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Welcome back to the world of the Benetto clan, who’ve flung themselves out of the suburbs and into Brooklyn, with varying degrees of success.


When we last met with the Benettos (in the captivating prequel King of Knives), the tightknit group was laboring under a thin veneer of jovial holiday cheer as Christmas rapidly approached. But one ill-fated bridal shower upended everything, and soon long-held secrets and resentments finally brought their chapter as a nuclear family to a close, with father/patriarch Frank driving off into the sunset with his real ride-or-die, daughter Kaitlin. It was a perfect capper to a near perfect story.


However, the Benettos linger on the mind and in the heart, and one couldn’t help but wonder what happened to these adorably flawed people. Happily, we get some answers with Queen of Knives, picking up where King of Knives left off!


The film opens with a perfect montage of each family member in bed, quickly catching the audience up to speed with where everyone is in life:


Father/ex-husband Frank Benetto (Gene Pope, lead actor/producer/writer/creator of the KOK universe) is alone, just as he’d hoped after forcing his wife’s hand into freeing him from an unhappy marriage. But is being single all he thought it would be? From the midlife crisis ponytail, combined with the vicious hangover he’s nursing, it appears he might’ve overplayed his hand…


Mother/ex-wife Kathy Benetto (Mel Harris, of Thirtysomething fame and much more) has a new, surprising love interest! Is it a happy coincidence that it’s a pairing that will get under ex-husband Frank’s skin? It probably doesn’t hurt!


Daughter/sibling Sadie Benetto (the luminous Emily Bennett) abruptly ended her engagement to an all-too-sweet fiancé in KOK and is now celebrating shedding her goody-two-shoes image with a series of one-night stands. But sometimes freedom comes with unanticipated consequences…


Daughter/sibling Kaitlin Benetto (the darling Roxi Pope) has also released past restrictions. She’s now living her best (and truest) life with her partner in a beautiful love story. That her choices force Frank to confront his biases, while reinforcing her mother’s new path, is of no concern to Kaitlin. The angry, angsty gal from KOK has settled fully into her own: still tough, but more centered. She cares, but she’s also going to take care of herself.


Meanwhile, only son Danny remains at the center: the thread that has held the family together, while simultaneously tearing them apart.

And with that, we’re off! Though Queen of Knives is an opportunity for the females to finally come the forefront, there’s no doubt that Frank still centers himself into the main frame. Even as he acknowledges the loss of status for “old white men,” he continues to inadvertently exploit the women who love him. Is he well-meaning? Sure. Is he still selfishly unaware of his entitlement, even as he attempts to explore how obsolete those of his ilk are becoming? Absolutely. But it wouldn’t be the Benettos without his blunders!


That said, I loved seeing the growth, especially from Kathy, Kaitlin, and Sadie, who all blossom in a variety of ways. I really can’t pick a favorite – everyone had such great storylines, with a pastiche of life lessons, both good and bad. You know I loved seeing Kathy finally get to be adored! The relief that Kaitlin exudes in getting to be herself, and love who she wants, is everything. And man, the sexually liberated Sadie is fire. The “Stepford wife in training” is long gone and I say good riddance to that nonsense! And Frank! We love him because he tries, even in his bafflement. (I just about fell off the couch laughing when he earnestly asked, "Have you guys heard of pansexuality?" He uttered this sentence in Brooklyn and was not escorted off the island.)


With the Queen of Knives leads also comes a new passel of powerful women, including Masha (Barbara Tirrell) as Frank’s park bench buddy (I call her “The Smoking Sage”), and Frank’s new situationship, Autumn (Alexandra Renzo). Are you shocked to learn that Autumn is several decades younger than Frank? Not if you’ve been following his stereotypical paint-by-numbers bachelor handbook!


A shoutout to the conglomerate that created Autumn – the actress, director (Jon Delgado), and writer (Lindsay Joy) have put the perfect template together, and Alexandra Renzo plays her deftly. It would be so very easy to be the caricature of a self-aware yet annoyingly clueless hippie chick, with all the typical tropes. But Autumn is not that. She’ simply herself: beautiful and breezy, but thoughtful and grounded. And wholly appealing. You could see why Frank, or anyone, would fall for her. Her stroll through the park with her artist friend (newcomer Neptune, who’s fabulous in their own right) was like watching an Emily Henry novel come to life. (If you’re unfamiliar with Henry’s work, just trust that it’s a compliment!) The first King of Knives film is famous for its crackling, hilarious, natural-feeling dialogue and Queen of Knives offers more of the same real talk, real funny, real layers, with people who feel like you’d actually know. It’s easy to get lost in this world.

When the Benettos and their partners finally collide over a wild meal, it’s worth the wait. You thought the bridal shower from KOK was crazy? It’s got nothing on this mashup! (Kathy’s vat of Malibu rum-fueled punch might have something to do with it, but the match, as always, is Frank and his inactions that finally bring things to a head…)




Gene Pope has created something special, in both projects. He’s the head and the heart, balancing Frank’s imperfections in a way that is wholly watchable. This isn't just indie - this is elevated indie. I’ve thought of King of Knives fondly over the years, since its release in 2020. It’s never really left my mind, to the point that I’ve made it an annual movie to stream during Thanksgiving. Sure, the original offering is based in a balmy December (global warming – I’m sorry, Gene! Haha) but the family dynamics remind me of the terror and joy of a shared table, much like my other beloved Turkey Day rewatch, Home for the Holidays.


There’s more – so much more – to say about this much anticipated sequel. However, like life, Queen of Knives is best experienced for yourself. I’d highly recommend watching King of Knives first and then let the beauty of QOK wash over you. Perhaps on holiday repeat, like I plan to do!



Nuggets: more film thoughts


·  I’m honestly hoping for a KOK trilogy. The fact that Frank walks into the sunrise (vs sunset), despite a certain diagnosis, has me hopeful that there might be another installment in our future. Like with dear friends, I just don’t want to say goodbye!


·  How sweet is it that real life father/daughter duo Frank and Roxi Pope have teamed up again? I love their relationship. It must be so special to get to do this together. (The onscreen moment where Kaitlin gives Frank a well-deserved and fiery wakeup call while they struggle to build an Ikea couch is the new “dancing over torn photos” scene!)


·  Um, how much do I have to pay to get invited to join Kaitlin, Frank, and Neptune for a night out in Brooklyn? That speakeasy is to die for!

·  Please note that while I didn't specifically mention Tara Westwood or Carmen Lobue, as well as other castmembers, they're all fantastic! I'm trying to leave a little plot mystery and write a mainly spoiler-free review. That's not a knock on these incredible actresses.


·  You know how much I love Mel Harris! If Mel/Kathy had an Only Fans where we got to watch her drink beers from an ice chest on her porch, I would subscribe. She is the coolest.


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