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A Kid in King Arthur's Court
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A Kid in King Arthur's Court More at IMDbPro »

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Charming blend of fantasy and comedy with a message

9/10
Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City
11 April 2005

Calvin Fuller (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a young teen from Reseda, California whose biggest problem is that he's lacking confidence. We join him as he's the next batter in a crucial baseball game. The pressure is on. He strikes out without even trying. An earthquake strikes as he's despondently walking back to the dugout, which isn't surprising for Northern California. Suddenly, Army of Darkness (1993)-style, Calvin "falls" to Arthurian England wearing his baseball uniform and his backpack. It seems that Merlin has pulled Calvin back through time "by mistake", perhaps misled by Calvin's clothing--his team is called the "Knights". Merlin was seeking help to vanquish a renegade courtier, Lord Belasco (Art Malik), who desires to wed Arthur's daughter Sarah (Kate Winslet) and take over Camelot for ill purposes. Will Calvin be able to help Merlin anyway, even though he's just a kid with low self-esteem?

The basic idea of the film is a modernization of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, which was originally published in 1889 (why didn't they have Calvin be from Connecticut and name his team The Yankees? The "mistake" and delivery device could have been rewritten). There are also relations and references to the number of film versions that have been made of Twain's book over the years (including 1921, 1931, 1949, 1955, 1978 (A Bugs Bunny version), 1979 (The Spaceman and King Arthur), 1989 and even another 1995), a few other Arthurian films, such as The Black Knight (1954) and Siege of the Saxons (1963), and even F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (originally published in 1925), from which comes A Kid in King Arthur's Court's villain's name, "Belasco", which Fitzgerald meant as a reference to turn of the century playwright David Belasco; Fitzgerald used the name metaphorically to mean something like "illusionist" with a strong sense of "fakery" or "fraud".

This Disney version is quite a pleasant take on the tale. It's a funny but also surprisingly serious fantasy, with an appeal to families and a good message for kids. It helps to go into the film with limited preconceptions/expectations, as the film's tone takes many twists and turns.

Of course it's especially important to not expect non-fiction. Not a few reviewers have complained about the plausibility of certain scenes in Arthurian England, one saying that "Disney underestimated the intelligence of its audience" by showing implausible reactions on the part of the residents of Camelot to Calvin Fuller, and taking little care in making the historical setting more authentic (never mind that their notions of historical fact seem to be based on other fiction films rather than any historical research).

I'm afraid that we'd be severely overestimating the intelligence of at least that section of the audience if we expect them comprehend that the film isn't intended as a documentary on Arthurian England, nor is it intended as a sociological dissertation on what would likely happen given such a clash of these particular cultures. It remains a mystery why it wouldn't strike the parties in question that perhaps the entire film is a daydream of Calvin's while he's waiting on the bench and as such would be far from accurate in its portrayal of Arthurian England. At least the film isn't intended as "realistic". However we interpret the visual information we're given, fantasy is surely intended. After all, the film literally concerns a teenaged boy traveling 1500 years or so (King Arthur is usually placed around the latter half of the 5th to the first half of the 6th Centuries) back in time through a crevice left in the wake of an earthquake. Did someone think that was plausible? That's a fairly large clue that you should switch your interpretational mode to "fantasy".

Like the other versions of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the novelty is the cultural clash. Calvin wows his historical audience with his strange dress, speech, behavior and most concretely, the technological gadgets he brings along. He arrives as King Arthur's men are pursuing the Black Knight, falling right on top of the fugitive so that he acquires the box the Black Knight was riding off with, saving the day. Shortly afterward, Calvin is taken to Camelot, where Belasco challenges him, asking him to choose his weapon. Calvin says, "combat rock" and pulls a CD player out of his backpack, which he ingeniously connects to a couple horns as earphone amplifiers, shocking and awing the crowd with blaring heavy metal. Later, items such as candy, bubble gum and a Swiss army knife prove fortuitous.

But the most important character arc is a developmental one. In Arthurian England, Calvin's self-consciousness isn't interpreted negatively. To Camelot's residents he is merely a strange foreigner acting with decorum--if he's even not threatening. The King's younger daughter, Katherine (Paloma Baeza) takes an almost immediate shine to him, which is important as Calvin is just at the age where he's strongly interested in girls. Even if he's not physically adept, he is clever, as demonstrated with the CD player gag. He further employs his ingenuity to instruct the royal blacksmith in making first a pair of roller blades, then later a "mountain bike", both of which serve important purposes. While at court, he's also giving knight training, which improves his physical abilities. Eventually, Calvin reaches his potential and sheds his self-doubt, fueling the climax and providing a denouement that is a Zen-like "return to the market" (from the oxherding parable), where Calvin proves successful and appreciated in his native environment.

This is an important message of confidence, not only for kids, but for adults, too. The point isn't the historical drama, although that's a lot of fun even if it's more like a medieval section of Disney World than 6th Century England. The point, at least in this particular instantiation of A Connecticut Yankee, is the removal of conceptual/environmental ruts that get in the way of self-actualization.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Merlin's Reds

Author: tedg (tedg@filmsfolded.com) from Virginia Beach
26 August 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoilers herein.

The magic of the legend is that it is presented through the prism of Merlin's magic. It is the English thread of self-referential literature that balances the Spanish Don Quixote. In this thread, the teller is a magician and all of the "reality" we see is fabricated as the illusion, some of which sometimes exceeds the control of the teller.

Disney on the other hand is the great flattener, someone who squeezes all the subtleties and depth out of a story in order to appear to the lowbrow as lowbrow.

In between, we have the illustrious Mark Twain. I say Illustrious because his talent was in taking all sorts of literary devices and recasting them as scenes that have commonplace reality.

Here we have the magic of the legend (and the very root of English narrative) transformed into American vision by Twain and then flattened to cartoon by Walt's zombies. It is interesting if for no other reason than as a lesson in how the narrative form gets shaped.

But for me, there are two other features. This has Kate Winslet as the focus. She had just done "Heavenly Creatures," a project based on exposing the plastic nature of film reality. With that, she started a brilliant career. After this, she would be introduced to Americans through "Sense and Sensibilities" which tackles to other side of invented reality. Here, she figures in a odd way as the manipulator of events.

The other notable thing is the influence of Disney's fabled Character Lab. This is the lab that is -- among other things -- reinventing what it means to see redheads. Every female in this is a redhead of some sort: Calvin's Mom and sister: his girlfriend and HER sister (Kate).

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Good adaptation of Mark Twain's story

8/10
Author: John Aldrich from Chattanooga, TN USA
8 August 1999

I just finished watching this as a Sunday night Disney movie on TV. I found this to be a pretty faithful to the IDEA of Mark Twain's original story. Granted it didn't even TRY to follow the original plot, however I don't think that was ever the intention.

Taking it as a new work, based on the theme of the original, and not as an adaptation of the original, I think this was well done, and the identity of the black knight SHOULD have been obvious, but it took me by complete surprise.

Kate Winslet does a very good job as the Princess, and Patrick Macnee does an excellent job as Merlin.

All in all a very enjoyable FAMILY movie with no bloody violence and not a single bad word that I can recall.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A fairly awkward family adventure film

5/10
Author: Electrified_Voltage from Guelph, Ontario, Canada
9 February 2008

I remember seeing the trailer for this film back in 1995, when I was just under nine years old, and was interested in seeing it for a while, but never did for some reason. I guess I forgot about it after a while, and didn't think about it for a long time. Well, it's been over a decade now, and I've finally seen it, not that it was really worth it. I probably would have liked it to some degree back when it was released, whether in theatres or in stores, but unfortunately, it's too late for me now.

Calvin Fuller is a fourteen-year-old baseball player who lives in Reseda, California. One day, while up at bat during a game in the park and not doing so well, an earthquake hits! Calvin falls down a chasm in the ground, and after long fall, he finds himself in an unfamiliar place! It turns out he has been pulled back in time to the mythical Camelot! The now elderly King Arthur is losing his power, and the evil Lord Belasco is determined to to take over the throne, so the kingdom is in danger! The 20th Century baseball player doesn't know at first that he is here because Merlin has called for a worthy fighter from another time to save the kingdom, but was Calvin really the one he was looking for?!

Around the beginning of the film, before the earthquake, I already noticed some cheesiness, especially with Calvin's younger sister razzing him by saying if he dies, she will get his room. Secondly, I don't think I have EVER seen a movie rush into the story so quickly! "A Kid in King Arthur's Court" certainly doesn't take much time to introduce the main character and his life at all. After that, more problems definitely follow, including some rather cheesy quotes and/or scenes. Also, this movie is supposed to be a comedy, but nothing made me laugh or even smile! Now, there may be some reasonable moments in the film, and I would be lying if I said I never felt any suspense throughout. It definitely could have been worse. However, it is still a fairly unfocused family movie overall, and I MIGHT be able to give it a 6/10, but no higher.

"A Kid in King Arthur's Court" was aimed at kids, and since I was in my childhood when it came out, I'm obviously not anymore. If it wasn't for my interest in seeing it all those years ago, I highly doubt I would have ever ended up seeing it at all. Watching it in my childhood may have been a missed opportunity for me. Since I see a fairly low IMDb rating for this live action Disney fantasy, but one that doesn't suggest that it's generally considered abysmal, I'm sure many kids would enjoy it, and maybe their parents as well. However, if you don't fall into either of those categories, I suggest you skip this movie and watch a more widely appealing fantasy film (if you're into that kind of thing).

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Bearable; sends a positive message; funny

5/10
Author: Renee
30 December 2001

I've owned this movie on video for quite sometime. Unlike some other Disney disasters from the nineties, this one does a suitable job. Its funny (if not always historically accurate; there was no King Arthur) and the actor who plays calvin is so clueless you gotta love him. Thumbs up to the boy toy. Very cute. Warm.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Kate Winslet at her hottest!

Author: mr_twist from California
9 August 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you get your kicks from medieval, lesbianic sex than this is not the movie for you. Princess Katey is plenty cute, but this is the hottest you'll see Kate Winslet: when she was young and fresh, before her state of perpetual pregeancy.

SPOILERS HEREIN:

Calvin Fuller is your average Californian teen, who just can't catch a break. After another dissapointing baseball game, the Big One hits California. As all the spectators and players run for their lives, Kevin runs back into the dugout to get his backpack. The ground opens up, and Kevin plummets into a neverending hole, retaining miraculous composure considering his situation. He lands in King Arthur's Court and quickly adapts to his new surroundings. Rather than wondering, "Where the hell am I?" his mind is peoccupied with thoughts such as "Who is the Black Knight?", and "Where is the bathroom?" Soon Kevin must contend with evildoers within the kingdom to win the affection of the woman he loves. A hilarious fish out of water movie, "Kid in King Arthur's Court" is well worth your time and all of your money. Run down to your local rental store and 'joust' rent "A Kid in King Arthur's Court", for a 'knight' of medieval fun!

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

if only...

4/10
Author: tieu_yeu_nu_123 from Australia
1 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

if Kate Winslet wasn't in this film i would have never bothered with it.

the main kid Kevin is such a loser with the softest voice i wonder how anyone can ever imagine him being a threat.

Princess Katey has a horrible accent, not to mention they ruined her character.

the only good thing about this film is Kate Winslet, Daniel Craig and Ark Milk. and if only the story was focus on them and their almost love triangle, it would score much higher.

Kate Winslet looks every inch the princess and is obviously the best fighter in the film, and the most useful character.

Daniel Craig has a head full of blonde hair and a British accent. nuff said.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Thomas is a Hollywood boy toy

Author: PinkPopTart16 from United States
11 May 2005

i so agree with this comment. Thomas Ian Nicholas is just so cute and adorable in this film. No wonder he was chosen to play Kevein in the "American Pie" trilogy. Thomas brings the same sweetness to Kevin just as he did for Calvin. I absolutely loved this movie when i was a kid. And even as a teen-ager, Thomas still maintained is boyish, cute looks as he progressed into adulthood. He is a good actor (although not one you think to win an award such as an Oscar, with a profound sense of innocence. I hope to see him in more upcoming movie projects where he plays more than just a killer's victim ("Halloween: Resurrection"), or just a television character that's more than cute ("Dawson's Creek".)I can't wait to see him in his next movie!!!!!!!

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A good movie for kids who seem to have seen everything new!

8/10
Author: Johanna from United States
24 May 2006

This movie is best for 9-14 year old kids. I use it in my middle school history class to see what life was like in the middle ages. If your looking for a movie for adults, or an accurate version of the King Arthur story, this is NOT the movie for you. This is a great movie, very funny! The Jokes are timeless and the story is cute. Even boys who can't stand "history" movies like this because of it's jousting and swordplay scenes. It is an adventure without being grotesque or scary. The girls like the underlying love story. I have shown this movie to over 400 students and they all had positive comments about it. These days it is hard to interest kids without video games or swear words. This gets the job done.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Kate Winslet in a Disney movie!

7/10
Author: Sherazade from United States
19 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

sounds good right? Hmmm! If only it weren't the cheesiest of all Disney movies you would ever hope to see. I'm sure this film dropped off of her casting call resume years ago! She plays Princess Sarah, daughter of an ailing King who is being pressured to give her hand away in marriage. But like many of Winslet's characters, Sarah is headstrong and refuses to marry for anything less than love. Okay, you're reading this and wondering, wow! cool right? Well, it would have been perfect if the film were about Princess Sarah's love troubles but it's not. Kate's part is actually a supporting-supporting role and a side story. The main story is the story of a boy called Kevin, in present day California, who gets hit on the head by a fly ball during baseball practice and wakes up in the age of King Arthur. No, I am not making this up. You will have to see the film to verify. It's cheesy but watchable and carries several good messages within its many sub-plots.

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