Home Year 2001 Black Knight (2001)

Black Knight (2001)

Yep, it's as bad as this looks.
Yep, it’s as bad as this looks.

Twitter Plot Summary: Martin Lawrence works at a medieval theme park and is magically transported back in time. Hilarity ensues. Apparently.

Genre: Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy

Director: Gil Junger

Key Cast: Martin Lawrence, Marshall Thomason,  Tom Wilkinson, Vincent Regan.

Five Point Summary:

1. So he’s transported through time AND space? 

2. He’s a modern day man in the Middle Ages! It’s supposed to be hilarious but it isn’t!

3. His name is Skywalker. Hah. Hah. My sides have just split.

4. White girl sleeps with Martin Lawrence. He gets locked up. This is supposed to be funny.

5. “Eeeeeeennnnglaaaaaaannnnd!” Okay, so that bit actually was amusing.

Oh dear. It took than 30 seconds of the film before that thought popped into my head. I’m sure it must be a new personal record. Martin Lawrence arrives in the past and looks like he’s never seen a white man before. Which, based on the first five minutes of Black Knight where white folk are apparently a moribund species, appears to be the reason. Within a further 5 minutes Lawrence is in the past and doing that “hilarious” schtick of being a modern man sent back in time, as the only black man. So that’s where all the white folk ended up! It’s cheap, badly written and the comedy equivalent of smashing yourself repeatedly in the face with a hammer. I can imagine the script writing session now – “I know! Let’s roll out every black stereotype we can, roll it all up in the form of Martin Lawrence and send him back in time by 800 years!” Generally speaking I don’t have a problem with stereotypes, but if you’re going to go down that road you could at least twist it a little so it’s interesting. This is stereotype by the numbers, and is subsequently a chore to watch.

It’s rather telling that only Martin Lawrence appears to be enjoying himself. It’s a bit like watching the first Dungeons and Dragons film (yes, there’s more than one), but with somebody enjoying themselves. It amazes me sometimes how these films get made, particularly as this is a PG rated film. It’s nowhere near entertaining enough for adults, and it only just barely passes muster for the younger audience. It’s like the script is trapped between wanting to be a family-friendly “hilarious” adventure and… well, an adult comedy with swears and nudity and stuff. Bridging the middle ground between the two really doesn’t work. I bet this started as an R-rated cut (15 rating in the UK) and was then sanitised by the studio. Not that it helps the story by any stretch, even Eddie Murphy in his 80s heyday would have struggled to make this work. Post-2000 Eddie Murphy would have been about as effective as Martin Lawrence actually is.

"You said this film would be funny! You lied to me, Martin Lawrence!"
“You said this film would be funny! You lied to me, Martin Lawrence!”

The only positive thing I can say is that Vincent Regan is rather good as the unfortunately named Percival. He does what he can with the script put in front of him, but it’s a losing battle. Suffice to say his pectorals got more characterisation in 300 than his entire persona does in Black Knight. Tom Wilkinson too – he’s done far better than this (see just about any other film he’s made an appearance in). It very much has the whiff of Michael Caine doing Jaws 4 just so he can build a house.

There were four moments that I found moderately amusing. Lawrence struggling to get onto a horse (this happens twice but I’m counting it as one moment); Lawrence realising the beheading was actually real; the Queen trying to rally the troops and doing a terrible job, and Lawrence advising the rebels in the dungeon that drinking your own urine is a bad idea. That was it. I was hoping that the Black Knight of the title would be John Cleese reprising his role from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (or Third Rock From The Sun, fact fans!), but no, it’s about as obvious a pun as you can get. Which, given the 80 minutes of dross that preceded it, shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

Favourite scene: Martin Lawrence realising that the beheading looks so real… because it is real.

Quote: “911! White man down! White man down!”

Silly Moment: Getting the court to dance around to some strangely modern music. Groan-inducing.

Score: 1.5/5


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