Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Gil Junger

Stars: Martin Lawrence, Kevin Conway, Tom Wilkinson

This unfunny and tedious variation on Mark Twain’s classic tale A Connecticut Yankee At King Arthur’s Court proves once and for all that the term “a Martin Lawrence comedy” is something of an oxymoron. (Okay, Big Momma’s House, Bad Boys and Blue Streak were passably entertaining, but for the most part Lawrence’s body of work has been little short of spectacularly bad, and includes stinkers like last year’s What’s The Worst That Could Happen?)

Lawrence is an obnoxious, uncharismatic and grating comic whose loud and unsubtle style often works against the material. Lawrence plays Jamal, a somewhat selfish, cowardly and lazy type who works at a down market medieval theme park in California. After accidentally falling into the moat though he is mysteriously transported back to 14th century England, where he is mistaken as a messenger from the battlefields of Normandy. Lawrence’s African-American jive talking patois is largely misunderstood, and his antics become an unexpected source of amusement within the fortress village. He soon becomes caught up in the intrigues of a band of rebels who plan to remove the tyrannical King Leo (Kevin Conway) from the throne and restore the ousted queen to her rightful place.

Black Knight is another variation on the fish out of water scenario, but a team of writers fail to wring many laughs out of Lawrence’s dilemma. Any opportunities for social satire and pithy commentary are largely wasted. Any attempt to depict Jamal gaining redemption and learning the error of his ways during his experiences is also lost by the muddled conclusion.

Director Gil Junger, a veteran of tv comedies who did a superb job with the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You, struggles to bring much energy, life or humour to the material here, and also seems unable to rein in the excesses of his narcissistic star.

It is also disappointing to see Tom Wilkinson slumming it and hamming it up here as a disgraced knight, especially after his recent, beautifully subtle and restrained performance in the powerful drama In The Bedroom.

Black Knight is a stupid and relentlessly unfunny comedy that will mainly appeal to fans of Lawrence’s aggressive and painfully over the top style!


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