Dada artist Marcel Duchamp once stated that “posterity is the judge of genius” and if that is indeed the case then perhaps in five hundred years the digital art of Mike Wrathell will be viewed as the great lost work of the twenty-first century, until then however…
“The King of Pluto” is a brief, loving glimpse into the life of failed law student but aspiring full time artist Mike Wrathell who explains some of his pieces such as “George Washington-Eyed Devil” and “”The Magnificent Man with a Hole in his Head” What makes Shelia Franklin’s profile both amusing and poignant is that Mike’s artwork isn’t exactly what most people would consider “good”, with inspirations ranging from what aliens from Pluto might look like to a lost love from Cincinnati.
While watching Mike in various aspects of his life be it explaining his bizarre art, being shown in archival footage running for state representative or giving a dissertation on how many slices of tomato should be on a whopper (two, unless you ask for extra tomato in which case three) there is never really an overall story arc to “The King of Pluto” which is frustrating considering how great of a character Mike is. By the end we know that Mike cares greatly for his artwork but we never feel as if we’ve been inside this fascinating man’s head, we’ve seen him but we never really know him. This lack of cohesion never makes Mike any less watchable but would have elevated an amusing slice of life piece into something a little more meaningful.
While rambling at times “The King of Pluto” is consistently engaging and shows the viewer that in the end it really doesn’t matter if Mike’s work ever leads him to greatness or not, through his art Mike found a release from the world around him and a sense of accomplishment and in a way that leaves him better off than most. Those in the mood for a quieter film which is off the beaten track of mainstream cinema would be recommended to give “The King of Pluto” a try and spend a half hour with Mike Wrathell.