Hello, friends in time, and welcome to a regular feature on Cinema 52 where I put my weekly viewing of Back to the Future on hold and watch another movie featuring time travel for comparison. It may not keep me sane, but it will probably always involve one guy shouting, “This doesn’t make any sense!” And that’s good enough for me.
A KID IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT (1995)
Responsible for a poster so terrifyingly nineties that I advise you not to look at it directly, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court is the story of Calvin Fuller (Thomas Ian Nicholas), an average baseball-hating high school baseball player that falls into a crack in the ground mid-game and finds himself in the court of King Arthur. This is apparently amazing, since, as the title suggests, there has literally never been a child there before. Movie, you so crazy!
Out of all the Connecticut Yankee adaptations this week, Kid probably juggles the most plotlines in a seamless fashion. You’ve got a spell gone wrong summoning a child, classic Fish Out of Water time shenanigans, two or three romantic subplots, a king trying to remain in power, a villain trying to remove that power, a mysterious black knight whose identity is unknown… you know, standard Hollywood shit like that.
Come on, it isn’t that bad.
Of course, tightly woven stories aren’t necessarily good stories, and that’s the problem here. There’s always something going on as we hop from A-story to B-story to C-story, but as a whole, it’s just… bland. I give it more credit than Black Knight, which doesn’t have an ounce of originality or surprise in it and feels like a rip-off of this movie, but it’s still a bit predictable and suffers from weak characters and occasionally baffling moments.
You’ll have to skip to the Other Stuff section for everything I despise about this scene.
I don’t think this story deserves the hate that other grown men who complain about children’s films give it, but it’s still not terribly exciting. It’s better than somebody aimlessly wandering around the past making cracks about modern things without a coherent storyline, though, wait, that still sounds pretty awful.
“CNN. Big Macs. Rookie of the Year, now available on home video.”
Oof. I’m sorry, Thomas Ian Nicholas, but you’ve got to go. This is awful “I keep forgetting I just traveled through time” acting, coupled with marketable nineties kid radness, and for this you must be punished. I sentence you to a lifetime of American Pie sequels.
A punishment you’ve taken like a champ.
Calvin’s love interest, played by Palomo Baeza, is your simple generic Disney pretty princess, but this is the nineties, so she’s also combat-trained because grrrrlz.
So badass she doesn’t even realize her hair is on fire.
Ron Moody, who was the Evil Merlin in Unidentified Flying Oddball, is now a Good Merlin. Well, a Good Wet Merlin. I dunno, he’s dead, something, he lives in a well…?
“I refuse to act with kids. Put me in a puddle. Make it make sense.”
Pulling villain duty now is Art Malik as some dude named Belasco. He gives sort of a Jafar-ish performance, which makes sense, since he’s the king’s right hand man and wants to marry his daughter.
No, they’re not fighting over the teenaged one. A different daughter. Eww. Come on.
Here’s a fun game to play if you hate having friends: tell them you’ve got a movie where Daniel Craig and Kate Winslet hook up. Then put on A Kid in King Arthur’s Court.
Yeah, they’re famous now because they gave 110% in shit like this.
And finally, we come to our King Arthur, Joss Ackland. If there’s one truly bright spot in this otherwise disposable picture, it’s Joss. He’s regal…
…and he’s a little insane.
“Quack. Quack. Quack!”
Unlike his villainous role in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey as Denomolos, he’s entirely warm and friendly here, which makes it all the more surprising that the townsfolk fucking hate him. He’s just so damn watchable, and he deserved to be in a better King Arthur movie.
THE SPECIAL EFFECTS:
Oh, they’re bad. Calvin is transported to Camelot via a gigantic chasm that opens up beneath his feet, which is represented by projecting green screen footage of him onto a colonoscopy.
A kid in King Arthur’s GI tract.
He comes out the other– hold on, just one more shot of this guy in a poop chute.
“Is that gum? The urban legends are true!”
Eventually the sky pinches him off in a cheap effect taken straight from Time Bandits.
“Hey, theirs is square.” – Director Michael Gottlieb.
Oh, and this has nothing to do with time travel, but a shot of an axe flying out a window is just so awful, it warranted mentioning. You could do a better job with clip art and PowerPoint.
See, real things blur when they move…
OTHER (SPOILERY) STUFF:
- That stupid fucking “equalizer” scene. Okay, scroll back up and look at that dumb picture with the laser. So some mean knight has Princess Katey held at knifepoint on a ledge. Calvin threatens him with “the great equalizer” and blinds him with the laser from his CD player, causing him to fall off the ledge and die. Here are all the reasons this scene is goddamn stupid: 1) Katey is at knifepoint on a ledge. The slightest shady move from Calvin means he barely has to poke her and she falls off the ledge. 2) Calvin refers to this tactic as “the great equalizer” despite the equalizer having fuck all to do with the laser and everything to do with adjusting the frequency bands. 3) The laser does not come out of the center of the CD player. 4) The laser can’t be activated with the lid open; believe me, I’ve tried. 5) The laser projects straight up, not at a 45-degree angle. 6) The laser would not look like a solid beam. 7) Even if the laser were bright enough to blind the mean knight, he could just close his eyes, turn around, or knife Katey in the guts. 8) Katey is blocking the fucking ledge, yet he somehow stumbles past her and flails to the ground like a disphit. 8) The effects on the falling dipshit are clearly sped-up footage of the mean knight kicking his legs on a green screen. 9) Seriously, this was your plan?! Hucking the CD player at his face would have been a better idea.
- Ending spoiler. Just like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Black Knight, when Calvin returns to his own time, versions of Katey and Arthur are there. Unlike those other two movies, however, these people seem to actually be Katey and Arthur, as they both recognize Calvin instantly and must have been zapped there by some magic bullshit. Well, at that’s better than Bing Crosby and Martin Lawrence creepily stalking ladies just because they look some medieval piece of ass they were after.
THE “NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE!” MOMENT:
I can’t even think of a scene where Calvin mentions time travel, let alone is confused by it, but here’s a scene where he at least seems to be able to grasp the concept of the passage of time. Also, an excuse to show his doofy wet face again.
“I cannot believe I fell for the oldest trick in the book.
Then again, since I’m here, maybe it’s the newest trick in the book.”
Just writing this made me actively hate the movie more, but truth be told, it’s harmlessly average. For sheer entertainment value, the best Connecticut Yankee adaptation I saw this week was Unidentified Flying Oddball, a single frame of which is probably more fun than all of A Kid in King Arthur’s Court.
It’s this frame.
Want more time travel? Head on over to the Time Out archive.