Black Knight (2001)
One theory about our little game of review-chicken holds that the tosser of a Hot Potato, in some Jungian way, secretly wants to experience the dared thing himself. Not so in this case I was just genuinely looking to waste two hours of Mario's life. Or was I?
Watching Black Knight was like listening to the blues. You know what the lyrics are gonna be about, and you can see every chord change coming a mile away, but neither of these is the point of the blues. The point is (I THINK) to get musicians together to share their craft, keep the audience entertained, and to let B.B. King say "Lucille!" 150 times throughout the show. Only in this case, it's Martin Lawrence shouting "Bling Bling!" Well, to be fair, there's only one "Bling Bling" reference in the film.
Oh yeah, the film. The plot's your standard cut-and-paste Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, only this time it's Lawrence's South Central character Jamal who finds a glowing amulet at his work's amusement park moat, and does your standard time-travel hilarity. OK, so right there, I could let my 8-year-old niece finish the script.
But again, this isn't a Tartovsky piece. It's comfort food for a switched-off brain, and I found myself laughing here and there. Lawrence does what he has to do, though the real star of the show is the gorgeous Marsha Thomason, who plays the conspiring insider Victoria with as much intelligence and restraint as is possible in this situation, singlehandedly elevating the rating I was prepared to dole out.
The best thing that could've happened prior to the movie—apart from sharing a giant spliff with Halle Berry was that I found a great Black Knight review on imdb.com from a disgruntled extra from the film. He and his wife worked for two months on the film, and mentions that every time a scene was set up and ready to go, Martin Lawrence would enter and completely change everything.
I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm assuming this guy and his wife were a couple of SCA geeks completely worried about medieval authenticity, and saw their little world being invaded by Hollywood money. Honestly, more power to folks like these it's just another reminder to all that Hollywood isn't nearly as escapist as laymen think.
So I found myself watching the extras much more than I normally do, sympathizing while thinking about Lawrence and his entourage bullying their way around the set. Take after endless take of silent dancing for scenes where the music will be added later (oh, I could watch raw footage of that for hours). Extras portraying castle guards, wearing 30 pounds of armor in 90+ degree heat. Grimacing at the forced fake laughter as Jamal pratfalls while riding a horse. Or maybe people in the middle ages DID laugh like that, at which case they're truly now laughing at ME. STOP IT ALREADY.
Black Knight was a bit better than expected. Again, I should've been high watching it, though.
Review by Bradley A. Milton