Jamal Walker is living his life in LA when he’s unexpectedly transported back to the Middle Ages. There he finds himself in the middle of a rebellion and at odds with the King and his eeevil minions. Can he save his own hide, take down the King and get back to the present (and maybe get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Black Knight.
How?! Jamal Walker is not serious. So when the medieval theme park he works at is threatened by a cooler, newer one he’s ready to jump ship and keep things flowing. That is until he falls into the moat and wakes up in the actual Middle Ages. Uh oh! At first he is mistaken for a messenger from France, while a lady of the castle is convinced that he is part of the rebellion hoping to reinstate the rightful queen to the throne that the eeevil King Leo stole with the help of his eeevil henchman Percival. He is treated to a feast where he busts some moves and smooches the princess only to inadvertently ruin a rebel assassination attempt much to the frustration of Victoria. As a reward Jamal is made a knight and everything goes swimmingly… that is until he is caught in bed with the princess. Uh oh! The marriage prospects of the princess ruined Jamal is set to be executed. Just before his execution he is rescued by a disgraced knight, Sir Knolte, at the behest of Victoria. At the rebel camp he is ready to get back to LA and heads for the moat, but ends up having a change of heart and returns to camp to find it in ruins and the rebel force decimated. Jamal musters up all the leadership he has and rouses the rebels for a fight and leads them into battle. Jamal himself is able to turn the tide posing as the Black Knight and ends up in direct contact with Percival. With the help of his friends (awww) he is able to win and the Queen is returned to the throne. Huzzah. Officially knighted he wants Victoria to return to LA with him but accidentally falls through time alone. With a new lease on life he turns the theme park around and makes serious strides in his professional life. Someone who looks a lot like Victoria *wink* even agrees to a date. Nice. He then inexplicably falls back through time to Ancient Rome… weird. THE END.
Why?! This is interesting only insofar as the setup for everything is so flimsy. Clearly meant to get Jamal to the Middle Ages as quickly and with as few questions asked (or answered) as possible. I wasn’t even sure what lesson Jamal was supposed to be learning by going back in time (there always has to be a lesson). Eventually you realize that he didn’t take life, his job, etc. seriously enough. Only by having to lead a revolt against the unrightful and eeeevil king is he able to learn the value of community and leadership and thus return to LA and take ownership and responsibility at his job (and quickly rise in the ranks as a result). Good for him.
Who?! We always note when we have a new President in a film. Here we have a new reigning King and then Queen of England. King Leo is the antagonist of the film. Interesting, since Leo wasn’t a common name for British Kings. Common in Armenia and like… The Kings of Leon, right? The Queen who takes back the throne at the end of the film is just credited as The Queen. Also weird that they reign from a tiny town in the middle of nowhere England apparently. Not much of a kingdom really.
What?! There is a bit of actual product placement at the front of the film and then Jamal is often making references to culture and stuff when he’s in the Middle Ages. But nothing that is necessary for the plot. It’s not like he fails miserably at inspiring the rebels only to realize that perhaps if he gave them a sip of a delicious, refreshing and yes, inspiring Coca-Cola, that they would rise to the occasion… in fact, note to self…
Where?! This is set in England. That is the extent of it. It doesn’t look like England, it doesn’t feel like England. It probably seems more like a Medieval Times than any part of Medieval England. Really the only way we know for sure that it’s in England is that they keep talking about Normandy and making fun of France. A-.
When?! We actually get an (approximate (likely (probably))) exact date on this guy. Confused and afraid, Jamal asks earnestly what the date is. It’s of course Sunday the 5th, silly. And he breathes a sigh of relief… oh… not 2001 (which presumably is August 5th, 2001… the only 5th that year that falls on a Sunday). It’s Sunday the 5th, 1328 (presumably September 5th, 1328… the only 5th that falls on a Sunday other than December and I mean, it wasn’t nearly cold enough for that). So yup, he left LA on August 5th, 2001 and landed in England on September 5th, 1328… case closed. A-.
At the start of the film I was pretty sure I was in for a rough night. The set up for him falling through time is nonexistent. It’s like they just wrote “Jamal ends up in the Middle Ages” on a sheet of paper and handed it to Martin Lawrence. It’s actually a wonder to see him make his way through full scenes without anything of substance to say or do. But once we were there and Jamal is both confused by his surroundings and employing all his people skills to simply survive, it’s actually a somewhat touching and amusing film. He is concerned for people who seem like they are unwell and covered in dirt. He’s titillated by all the ladies at the castle who seem to be there to serve him. And he’s enticed by the opportunities of knighthood after living without much opportunity in LA. It all unravels (and so does the film), but for a moment I was actually enjoying myself quite a bit. With as much grace as they started the film they ended it and it all crashed down in a terrible Monosklog, a kinda boring battle, and then a heartwarming ending. If only they didn’t have to have a beginning, middle, and end… if they could just have one long Martin Lawrence middle then they might have had something. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Man, the sequel to Big Momma’s House is WILD. I mean … Big Momma isn’t even in it! Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – Growing up on A Kid in King Arthur’s Court playing on television and I know that the film is likely to just be silly. But then I remember Big Momma’s House and how disjointed it is, and White Chicks and how … insance that film is, or Norbit and how unpleasant that film is and … there is an outside shot this film is absolutely awful in really weird ways. Only one way to find out though. What were my expectations? I’m hoping it is a disjointed delight like Big Momma’s, but I feel that it is going to be like A Kid in King Arthur’s Court (also qualified by the way).
The Good – The film is far more charming than it has any right to be. I think it is a testament to Martin Lawrence, who had transferred all of his manic energy from his stand-up and Martin directly into the Jamal character. I also personally appreciate how quickly they cut to the chase. There isn’t a huge amount of bookends to the film. It is like 10 minutes at the beginning setting up Jamal just kind of not caring about giving back to society, and then 5 minutes at the end to show how he changes. Easy peasy. The film isn’t funny, but it has a giant dance scene, so that’s fun. Best Bit – Martin Lawrence.
The Bad – The sheer number of sex and dick jokes in the film. It ends up just being too much. Jamal is stuck in like 1300s England, at risk of dying at any moment … but all he wants to do is smash that chambermaid and needle the king’s daughter about her sex life. The big monologue in the film (complete with outdated-at-the-time Rodney King reference) is really really bad. It ends up doing the opposite of the big monologue in Big Momma’s House, sinking the film, instead of tying it up in a big BMT Hall of Fame bow. The film isn’t funny, and ends up being unabashedly trite. Fatal Flaw – Too reliant on sex jokes.
The BMT – The film is ultimately too good to be on the same level as Big Momma’s House. It is also too linear, we very rarely get to see Jamal like … go and learn to joust, and then go and learn to sword fight, and then to the maypole or whatever. My point is, everything that allowed Big Momma’s House to transcend it’s reason for being and become a Hall of Fame BMT film is absent from this film. It was also absent from the other Big Momma films. It really is something quite special for comedies. This is just less than. Did it meet my expectations? No, in that it didn’t manage to roll into Big Momma territory, but yes in that that is what I expected. It is probably the same as A Kid in King Arthur’s Court or any of the number of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court adaptations.
Roast-radamus – Definitely a good Setting as a Character (Where?) film for England in general, and on a similar note a great Period Piece (When?) for taking place on an exact date in 1328. I don’t think there are good arguments for any of the others. There is a mysterious pendant, but that wouldn’t really qualify as anything unless Jamal had it taken from him the instant he was transported back in time, and then spent the entire film trying to get the inexplicably magically pendant back. I think it has the best shot at Good for the main superlatives.
StreetCreditReport.com – 2001 was a weird year because there weren’t really any lists of bad movies that year. I’m actually not sure if it predated the trend of online worst-of lists or what. I do think this is probably the best of the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court films, although it is likely one of the worst time travel comedies ever made. It mostly has cred for catching Martin Lawrence right around his Imperial Period. This might actually mark the turning point in Lawrence’s film career where his projects wouldn’t be immediately greenlit.
You Just Got Schooled – Now, I could have watched A Knight in Camelot starring Whoopi Goldberg, but I have plenty of time (and other films) I could do that with. It had occurred to me that despite seeing Martin a number of times somewhat randomly on Fox (and rerunning on cable channels) I had never really sat down and watched an episode. So I watched the pilot … it’s incredible. First, the show is actually quite good I think. Lawrence is manic and funny, and you can immediately see why he became a movie star in the late 90s/early 00s using the exact same formula. Second, Big Momma is in the show! Well, she isn’t fat, but Martin plays a number of characters in the show (interesting, considering it is a multi-camera sitcom filmed in front of a studio audience (I assume, it looks like it), including his own mother who has exactly the same mannerisms as Big Momma. The whole thing is a revelation in a way. Tisha Campbell is by far the best part of the show though, funny and a perfect foil to Martin’s silliness. I watched the pilot for Mad About You a few years ago and had a similar reaction, but it always surprises me how distinct sitcoms were in the 90s. In my mind they all kind of blend together, but naturally they all have their distinct hooks (in this case Lawrence playing multiple characters, and his trademark energy). A. I’m really liking going back and watching some of these old shows in the course of BMT.