Imagine “Army of Darkness” without chainsaws, armies of the dead, a kick-ass soundtrack or any successful humor and you”ve got “Black Knight.” Although a more common and “accurate” comparison may be to the 1949 film “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur”s Court,” most of the people going to see this movie will be much more familiar with Bruce Campbell than Bing Crosby.

Paul Wong
Hey Martin … come explain this stupid ass movie to me.<br><br>Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Jamal Walker (Martin Lawrence) is a disgruntled and lazy employee of Medieval World, a dilapidated theme park that is about to be shut down due to the opening of a new competing park called Castle World. While cleaning the moat outside Medieval World, Jamal sees a medallion shimmering in the murky water, but as he attempts to reach for it, he falls into the moat and ends up in 14th century England. Don”t hold your breath waiting for the film to give you a logical explanation (or even a stupid one), because you won”t get it.

After being mistaken for a French messenger while explaining his South Central address, Florence and Normandy, he is taken into the castle as a guest of the tyrannical King Leo (Kevin Conway).

The running gag, which becomes tiresome, to say the least, is that Jamal thinks he”s just down the block at the theme park/hotel Castle World, surrounded by overzealous actors and poorly maintained toilets. It is not until he sees someone beheaded that he realizes what has really happened, at which point he gets caught up in a plot to overthrow the king and restore the deposed queen to the throne. Jamal (or as he is called in the court, Sir Skywalker) is immediately smitten with Victoria (Marsha Thomason), one of the chamber maids, which also gets him on the bad side of Percival (Vincent Regan), the head of security for the king, who disdainfully calls Jamal “moor” at every opportunity.

The movie is full of Lawrence”s supposedly clever remarks and slapstick comedy, but very little of it is even the least bit entertaining. Most of this can be blamed on the atrocious script (we can thank the writer of “Big Momma”s House”), because Lawrence has demonstrated that, while he has a habit of choosing terrible movies, he does have comedic talent, and he can make a joke work.

When the King commands Jamal to dance for him since his people are fine dancers (don”t worry, he means the Normans, not the Moors), he initially attempts to mimic the nobles” courtly style of dancing. Getting strange looks from everyone, he begins to struggle with the band a la Marty McFly, setting a baseline and eventually crafting a version of Sly and the Family Stone”s “Dance to the Music” using only mandolins, drums and those long, skinny trumpet dealies. Although this makes the rest of the film look pretty realistic by comparison (somehow the trumpet guys pick up their part automatically), Lawrence”s reactions during this scene are surprisingly funny. As he approaches the bewildered musicians, he confides in them, “Now, this is a pretty white crowd, so nothing too crazy.”

The big problem with this film is that it seems to be afraid to give us anything but the lowest common denominator of comedy. It seems to rest all of its hopes on the “Get it? He”s a black guy in medieval England, and he talks using slang and makes modern pop culture references!” type gags, and it never goes beyond that level.

The attempt to insert a message and a life lesson at the end of the film is laughable, considering the asinine nature of the rest of the film. Remember the classics I don”t recall Ash learning a strong work ethic at the end of “Army of Darkness.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *