Black Knight (Twentieth Century Fox, 2001)

I'll start right off by saying that I'm not a Martin Lawrence fan. I never watched his television series, I was offended by most of his concert film You So Crazy (and therefore steered clear of Runteldat), and his other films have simply flown below my radar. So, when this appeared to be the only thing on the television I found myself collapsed in front of--following a vast holiday meal--I expected very little.

However, one good thing about going into a movie with low expectations is that sometimes--albeit rarely, as I know what I like--I will be pleasantly surprised. Black Knight was one of those times.

Now, don't get me wrong here. I am by no means recommending this film. I'm simply saying that is was not as bad as I thought it would be. I can safely say that it was not awful, and I even chuckled once or twice.

Lawrence stars as Jamal Walker, an employee at a medieval-style theme park. While trying to retrieve a medallion from a moat, he gets knocked on the head (you can sense the originality already) and wakes up in 14th-century England in the middle of a usurped monarchy and a rebellion to put the rightful queen back on her throne. Assumed to be French due to his strange form of dress and speech (are the tears coming yet?), he adopts the name Skywalker and befriends Victoria (Marsha Thomason), the leader of the rebellion, and Knolte (Tom Wilkinson, by far the best thing in this movie), a drunken ex-knight who feels responsibility for allowing the overthrow of the queen.

Directed by television veteran Gil Junger (10 Things I Hate About You) with a script from Darryl J. Quarles (Big Momma's House) with Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow (Say It Isn't So), this is, of course, a typical fish-out-of-water story--ripping off Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court for the umpteenth time--complete with the expected anachronisms and "updated" sexual humor. He is continually trying to bed Victoria (as well as being pursued by the king's daughter), and I believe the word "thong" is mentioned half a dozen times.

But Lawrence is enthusiastic at least. He seems to know he's in a flimsy film and does his best to fill it with himself. Unfortunately, he isn't enough. The premise wears out about halfway through, and all we're left with is the inevitable battle and resolution. The final scene was funny (as well as unexpected and therefore all the better), and there were a few inspired scenes sprinkled throughout, but as a whole this is a misfire.

[Craig Clarke]

The Black Knight Web site comes with a
flash-animated dancing knight in black armor, assuming
that's your thing.