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"A Knight's Tale"

Directed by Brian Helgeland ("Payback").
Written by Brian Helgeland.
Starring Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany and Shannyn Sossamon.
Release Year:  2001
Review Date:  5/14/01


Yep, it's me again!

I figured, it's a Monday, why not go out and catch a flick?  So, my friend Amanda and I went over to the local multiplex to catch “A Knight's Tale”, starring Heath Ledger from the Mel Gibson adventure film “The Patriot” from last year. 

The story, if you want to call it that, involves a peasant named William (Ledger) that becomes the greatest jouster in Europe by stealing his dead master's armor and pretending he is a knight to gain entrance to jousting tournaments.  Along the way, he romances a beautiful princess (Shannyn Sossamon) and, with the help of a merry band of cohorts, most notably some guy named...Chaucer (Paul Bettany)...he vies for the World Championship in the joust. 

Okay, the story is pitiful, and made more pitiful because the writer/director, Brian Helgeland (his resume includes one great film, “LA Confidential”...the rest are in the bad category, like “976-EVIL”), tries to introduce some deeper meaning to the William character in the last half-hour of the film, making for groans and ughs from people in the audience. 

But, the film has such great energy that it makes for a pretty cool ride throughout the majority of the film.  Helgeland plays with convention and sets many of this film's 16th-century scenes to...20th century rock music, like “The Boys are Back in Town” and “We Will Rock You.”  I thought that this would be either really stupid or just really awkward...but somehow, this all worked!  It leads to dirty peasants singing the words to the songs, and it looks hilarious!  And speaking of hilarious, see this film just to watch Bettany play Chaucer up as one of the best onscreen orators you will see this year.  Bettany is the best, and sometimes only, reason to watch this film, but every scene he is in is fantastic.  By the time he is introducing William at the various jousting tournaments, yelling and screaming while delighting the crowds with the past accomplishments of William's faux-legendary knight (spouting off statements like “The Protector of Italian Virginity”), you WILL be rolling in the aisles. 

Ledger is good, as are his main cohorts, Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk).  Much comedy is had just watching Tudyk grimace throughout the picture.  Sossamon's outfits and especially her hair are ridiculous in the movie; besides the music, everything else in “A Knight's Tale” tries to stay true to the time period, but her outfits didn't fit at all.  (This is very similar to Helgeland's so-so “Payback” with Mel Gibson, in that all of the things in that movie stayed true to the present day except for the phones used in the film; you may remember that no one is carrying a cell phone and all of the phones are rotary dial, despite the fact that it was supposed to be 1999.) 

This is a good time, at least when it makes fun of itself.  Otherwise, the acting is not very strong and the story in-between jousts is weak.  Catch it before 6 PM and it will be “all good”, as the kids like to say.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09