Since I'm even sicker today and my pounding head is blocking any humorous thoughts I might share, I'm not even going to try to write something new. Instead, here's my review of "A Knight's Tale" from May of 2001:
Today's Consumer Report
Last night I went to a sneak preview of "A Knight's Tale," which has to be among the oddest movies I've ever seen.
It stars Australian hottie Heath Ledger (of "The Patriot" and "Ten Things I Hate About You") as a lowly squire who passes himself off as a high-born knight. There's no one else in the movie anyone would recognize - apparently they blew the majority of their casting budget on Heath. This is not to say that there aren't other good actors in the movie, but there are some clunkers, too.
Anyway, as I already knew from previews, the soundtrack to the movie is almost exclusively arena rock standards of the 1970s and 1980s. I wasn't sure just how weird that would be in practice until the opening "number." As a crowd waits for a joust to begin, the soundtrack kicks into Queen's "We Will Rock You," and the crowd does the "clap, clap, stomp" that makes the song so distinctive. Okay, so MAYBE that could have happened in medieval times, but then you see various crowd members singing along. Deeply strange.
As the movie progresses, our hero falls in love with a noble lady with a very anachronistic tan, for no readily discernible reason. She jumps him through Psycho Girlfriend hoops, which doesn't bother him enough that he refuses to play along. He also develops an intense rivalry with a French knight, also for no reason that the movie is willing to expound upon to the audience's satisfaction. The filmmakers preferred to paint their plot developments with broad strokes to leave more screen time for galloping horses, shattering lances, and defeated knights lolling out of their saddles.
Oh, and I can't leave out Sir Heath's ragtag band of merry men. In addition to two fellow squires who join him in his deception, he also manages to pick up Geoffrey Chaucer (yes, the writer), who serves as his forger of documents and who introduces our hero at his jousts like a Renaissance Ed McMahon. Before the end of the movie, their little band also includes a female blacksmith who apparently enjoys the advantages of 20th century feminism in the midst of the Dark Ages.
But back to the main story. Heath and his Malibu Barbie continue to make googly eyes at each other and eventually end up at a banquet and dance after a jousting tournament. One of the squires makes him a tunic to wear to this event, and for a horrible moment we think he's going to construct it out of the tent, a la "Gone With the Wind." His merry band also teaches him to dance.
At the banquet, he meets his girlfriend, who has clearly taken her hairdo and makeup tips from Sheena Easton, circa 1984. Incidentally, her costumes throughout the movie are extremely odd and I daresay not historically accurate, and her hairstyles get more bizarre every time we see her. By the time the dance devolves into a David Bowie song, I am half expecting the camera to pan over to Bowie himself, fronting a modern band in some corner of the castle's banquet room. Thankfully, that does not actually happen.
After that, Sir Heath's diehard enemy returns to the front of some war or other, depriving his rival of the opportunity to beat him at further tournaments. Both men get very worked up and pissed off about this, again for no readily apparent reason ("pride," I suppose, in the remedial logical sweeps of this movie).
The wrap-up of the movie includes a completely non-tear jerking interlude in which Sir Heath finds his beloved father, who apprenticed him to a knight years ago so he could have a better life. The father is now ancient (although considering the era we're talking about, he's probably only about 45) and blind. Sir Heath's visit to his father proves his undoing, as his rival follows him to the 'hood and discovers his true identity.
After some gratuitous "kicking him while he's down" scenes, our hero is saved by the Prince of Wales, with whom he once jousted when everyone else was too afraid. The actor cast as the Prince bears an uncanny resemblance to our current Prince of Wales, except that he's considerably handsomer (with a cool scar to let us know he means business). The Prince, impressed by Sir Heath's knightly qualities, makes up some B.S. about an ancient royal lineage, which the peasants have to accept because his word is law. He then knights our hero once and for all.
The movie ends with a final joust between Sir Heath and his mortal enemy, who pulls out every dirty jousting trick in the book in an increasingly cartoony, Snidely Whiplash kind of way. Naturally, our hero triumphs, despite hideous injuries that suddenly seem to disappear the minute the joust is over. He vaults a fence and runs to embrace his girlfriend, who now bears a striking resemblance to Jennifer Lopez. Fade to the credits, rolling over AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long." Wow.
If you still think you might want to see this movie, I recommend waiting until it's out on video or DVD. That way you can watch it with friends, have a drink or two, and make the most of the opportunity to provide a "Mystery Science Theater 3000"-style commentary. If you see it in the theater, don't say I didn't warn you!