King Ralph (1991)
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Who could have played the majestic, royal British type better than Peter O'Toole? Nobody! He's perfect, graceful and dignified as the King's adviser. John Goodman, on the other hand, is perfect as the average joe who doesn't know or care much about protocol, good manners or politics. John Hurt is another excellent choice to play the part of an evil, unscrupulous aristocrat hung up on power. Hurt obviously enjoyed doing this part and he's very funny. The movie tends to drag when Goodman's girlfriend shows up, but Princess Anna enters the stage to compensate. There are also some unnecessary exaggerations, but I didn't mind. The script is good, the jokes are over the top and performances are great all around. Hilarious stuff!
Sometimes having the head of state and the head of government does have its bad points. Watergate for instance might have not been the gut wrenching experience if in America we were a parliamentary democracy with a royal head of state. Richard Nixon would have been put up for a "no confidence" vote and out he would have been without all the drama.
Drama on the other side of the Atlantic is saved for the Royals. This film might give an American some idea of what the abdication crisis was all about. John Goodman as the American born King has his own Mrs. Simpson.
In fact how he got to the throne is quite the tale. On some grand occasion the extended royal family got together for what looks like a team picture like they take in spring training of the various baseball rosters. Someone left a loose electrical cable dangling on the metal bleachers and the whole lot of them were electrocuted.
Genealogists poured through the Windham family tree and found some member had renounced it all and gone to America. The heir of that forgotten branch is John Goodman, Ralph Jones who does a lounge act in Las Vegas and not in classier joints in Las Vegas.
Of course the free and easy and thoroughly American Goodman doesn't take readily to his new found job. He can't quite comprehend that he has to serve as well as be served. And he has the same problem the Duke of Windsor had when he was briefly Edward VIII. With a lot more excuse since Windsor was brought up in the tradition.
Peter O'Toole as the lord who tries to give him some on the job training and John Hurt who has his own reasons for wanting Goodman to flop both give stand out performances. Best scene the palace ball for Goodman's prospective bride when Goodman does his lounge act.
It's a funny film and in its own way educational. The Duke of Windsor should have seen it. His duty would have been clear.
Thumbs up in my view, but it's a little bit date these days. Superb supporting cast and a friendly film: nothing crude and from recollection, no bad language.
Goes to show that it can still be done if you really apply your mind to it!
Goodman performs bravely and exquisitely as the good-hearted buffoon who overcomes the stuffiness and snobbishness of a group of bluebloods too good for their own bodily functions.
Highly recommended for fun entertainment, I give "King Ralph" a 9 out of 10.
Ralph is a Las Vegas lounge singer badly in the need for some
moolah when a group of British councilmen approach him one night
and bear him the news that Ralph is the new king of England
after the whole royal family has been wiped out in a freak
accident! Reluctantly, Ralph takes the job. At first, he seems
like a fish out of water, the fact being that he is an American
first of all, and that he is also a total slob! Being king might
not be so good after all.
This movie is funny because Goodman does a nice job being a
lovable slob trying his best to be the royal figurehead of the
Britain. Peter O'Toole is also good as Willingham, the
aristocrat whose job is to look after the newly appoi
John Goodman does a great job as Ralph and the supporting cast are just as engaging from an excellent Peter O'Tool and charming Camille Corduri, currently to be seen in Doctor Who. So the acting isn't bad. There are some laughs along the way and the story though predictable is good enough. So what's wrong with it.
It could be that it's just a bit simple, but that's what makes it fun, nothing much to think about just sit back and enjoy. It has a heart and it doesn't try and be anything it isn't so let's not give it too hard a time.
This movie is good family fun, has some funny lines and nice character interaction, and the conflict/romance plot, while completely predictable like the rest of the movie, does the job it's supposed to do. The bad guy gets stuffed, the good guy gets the girl, the hero is redeemed, etc. Those aren't spoilers, since anyone who watches movies enough to be reading this site can see it all coming by the second commercial break. Still, I wasn't disappointed by that, since unlike others, I didn't think a movie called "King Ralph" was going to reach new peaks of comedic genius.
I gave it a 6/10. Worth watching for some chuckles and classic theme vibes. I also don't think the British greats were wasted in it...I think it made for decent corny fun, and having O'Toole et al be part of it was a big part of that.
They could have picked a better tune than "Good Golly Miss Molly" for King Ralph's big performance though. :-)
I also like the characters in the movie. Particularly The King who was played by the man who has the character in Roseanne. From the minute I recognized King Ralph I was not in any doubt about who played him.
I wish that the danish TV could send this lovely movie again. If they do then I'll watch it.
I simply love this movie and it makes me laugh. I must admit that I like all the persons in the movie.
I don't have any doubts that this movie made an impression on me when I saw it. It really was a very fine movie. I just have to mention it.
I can not praise this movie enough I simply love it with all my heart and soul. The movie was moving my feelings.
The movie it self was inspiring and amusing. Ther's no doubt that this movie would go into peoples hearts and they would love it very much.
It shows how the time was in those days as the movie was about. It must have been hard for King Ralph to be a king.
The customs was very pretty. I just like this movie. And I enjoyed it.
spoilers of the end ahead...
The end with (spoilers!) Ralph abdicating and naming Lord Willingham as his successor (who then makes him a duke) was a particularly funny scene that alludes to one of his earlier errors.
'King Ralph' was a slightly different animal though, a stand alone family film that was totally stupid in concept but offered a really solid cast and, by the looks of things, some high production values. Amazingly its yet another novel adaptation albeit a loose one, the story simply revolves around the British Royal Family getting wiped out in a freak accident. Its then down to the upper echelons to dig out a new King by rooting through the vast Royal Family tree, trying to discover a long lost distant relation with true royal blood to take the throne. Once they do it of course turns out to be the most unsuitable person imaginable (well for the early 90's anyway), a fat, loud, uncouth, brash American.
Right so who would be the best fat loud American of the time? why John Goodman of course. The fat, beer-swilling, checkered-shirt wearing slob from the hit TV US show 'Roseanne'. Basically take Goodman's popular character from that show, the stereotypical, overweight, middle aged, lacking of general knowledge, US sports obsessed male Yank, and make him a lounge singer with a knowledge of female club stripping and a penchant for Elvis style shades (not much of a stretch). To counter this you need a stereotypical British gent to guide and teach this gaudy foreigner, enter the stellar Peter O'Toole as the Royal secretary. You can't really get any better than O'Toole for the epitome of a British aristocrat (despite being possibly Irish), and you can't really get anymore of a polar opposite to Goodman. The duo play off each other superbly well considering how daft the film is and the fact its pretty much aimed at children. O'Toole puts in a sterling performance coming across perfectly as someone who would look after royalty, sure we've seen this type of performance from him before but his loyal butler-esque manner is so pleasing to watch and listen to. Indeed his speech to Goodman's character about what it is to be a King of England is quite stirring I must say, as a Brit it did bring a lump to my throat, such a shame these days patriotic talk like that is non-existent and almost frowned upon.
To add even more British star power to the proceedings we have John Hurt in an even more outrageously, hideously over the top, aristocratic, Conservative cad who will stop at nothing to dirty the new Kings image. Hurt's slimy, arrogant, pompous voice and attitude is just as good as his weaselly yet smartly dressed appearance complete with a dastardly thin pencil tash. I love how he's also completely cold, emotionless and kinda racist, calling Goodman's character 'a song and dance man from the colonies', a real Alan B'Stard. What's more his sidekick is played by Leslie Phillips! all the old chivalrous warhorses here.
So the brilliant character acting aside, what's also very impressive about this apparent silly kids flick is the fact it all looks fantastic. The outfits, suits and general attire of dignitaries and royals is spruce, debonair and dapper all round, everyone looks tip- top and pristine. The locations are a mix or real stately homes, clever use of small sections of real posh establishments and more obviously stock footage. Interior sequences are the most impressive with some sets looking exquisite, highly detailed and extremely lavish, it really looks like no expense was spared in creating these elegant royal interiors. I guess its all a bit surprising really, you'd never expect such extravagant detail with a silly little comedy like this, you'd think it would be all about the slapstick and raking in as much moolah as possible, different times.
Being an old movie I did also enjoy the retro blast I got from time to time, anyone of my age will no doubt feel the same way. Its always amusing to see old fashioned British punks in these movies. You the know the types, brightly coloured mohawks, black leather jackets covered in badges, chains and safety pins, lots of makeup etc...Twas also funny to see them all watching old fashioned TV's in the windows of a Rumbelows store, remember that??
Yeah the whole thing is very predictable as a kind of rags to riches, Prince Charming type of affair, you can guess what's gonna go down in scenes and overall its all very sweet and adorable. It might sound clichéd and dumb but watching the hapless Ralph trying to learn the ways of the super rich, whilst attempting to chat with senior dignitaries and royalty, is perfect light entertainment. That said there is a pleasant and fresh tale to be discovered here, being based on a novel it kinda reminded me of 'Brewster's Millions' actually. Goodman (in an early-ish, pre-superstardom movie role) is amazingly likable as the American lounge lizard with a golden heart who is turned into a rich nobleman...with a golden heart. Supporting cast are all brilliant as said adding real quality and a hint of solid drama to the story, the film is fun for kids with plenty of cutesy charm, but it also has the odd snippet of fun for adults too.
John Goodman plays a down on his luck performer that, as it turns out, goes from distant family to the throne of England to instant family on the throne. The only problem is that he's had no refinement and leaves a lot to be desired in the courtesy department. If one plus one equals two, then this combination equals a comedy that can't be matched...on ANY level.
I'm not saying this is the best comedy of all time, but what I am saying is that this film, if you rent it, is a nice quiet evening that will not offend many people and leaves the lead actor in a familiar base for him: a place where he's supposed to seem unfamiliar. Everybody remembers him as Dan Connor, but how many of you reading this remember he was the head football coach in Revenge of the Nerds? Goodman was an excellent choice for this part because of his range as an actor and his on-screen chemistry with Camille Coduri was priceless, too, as I felt that they represented the kind of relationship that everybody would like.
So, hats off (or crowns, if you will) to David S Ward for this film. I just got in here to give this comment and my next stop is to see what else this director has done. 7 out of 10 stars.
When a freak accident wipes out the entire British Royal Family, American lounge singer Ralph Jones is uncovered as the next heir to the throne. Despite being your atypical slacker, he shows a certain charm and his unconventional methods (along with much help from his private secretary and assistant) begin to win people over. He even begins to secretly see Miranda, a former stripper that he meets soon after arriving in England. But soon the corrupt Lord Graves begins a plot to disgrace Ralph and position himself as next in line for the throne. Miranda is pulled into the plot but falls for Ralph and backs out. Graves already has what he needs and disgraces Ralph at a royal ball. After Miranda admits her part in the plot, Ralph is able to trace it back to Graves and repair some of the damage done. He admits to Parliament and the people that he is not fit to be king and abdicates the throne to his secretary, who was secretly part of the royal line as well. Soon Ralph makes up with Miranda and the movie ends with them married as Ralph becomes a Duke and gets to live his dream of being a musician.
The cast is solid all around. John Goodman is impossible to hate as the big buffoon struggling to adapt to an entirely new world. Camille Coduri is likable despite her character's part in the plot against Ralph and has good chemistry with Goodman. Peter O'Toole and Richard Griffiths provide solid backup as his secretary and assistant, respectively, and William Hurt appears to have a blast in his small role as the evil Lord Graves.
As mentioned earlier, the story is a basic fish-out-of-water tale. Many of the jokes are derived from Ralph's class difference and ignorance of English culture. It is all very basic but is carried by the charm of Goodman. While my score of 8 is biased by years of popping in that old VHS tape, I recommend at least giving it a try. It is definitely worth a viewing.
I must confess, being half Cherokee Indian and half English, I was drawn to this movie if for no other reason than I had always heard about that half of my family's history and imagined who they were and how they lived. As an American, I have also fallen prey to my own sometimes myopic world view. King Ralph was an enjoyable way to contemplate the place that a monarchy holds in the hearts of their countrymen.
I don't believe that there is anything inherently wrong with having a movie that doesn't try to enlighten or enrage us. I have always felt that too often Hollywood tries to insert a message or moral slant to a project just because they believe that to not include one makes the movie seem shallow or silly. I say whats wrong with having just a fun movie? To me King Ralph was just such a movie. Of course it had smatterings of political overtones and touches of social commentary, but I feel that this was used to propel the story rather than to try and impart some deeper philosophical meaning to us.