Once upon a time, when the Sun revolved around the Earth, green tights were de rigeur, and the only bad mullet was a clean one, there were knights and they did joust. Saddle up, suit up, and rush at your opponent, sticks poised. There’s something terribly phallic about this, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it is.
A Knight’s Tale is a movie that takes the two things kids hate most, jousting and Classic Rock, and joins them at the medieval hip – all to create…Medieval Hip.
Yes, I said Classic Rock – back in the day when the electric guitar was horse-powered. Thanks to the Classics, this movie is both ahead of its time and behind ours. Watch as the medieval peasants chant along with Sir Freddy of Mercury and his band of merry men, Queen.
In the big dance party scene, the lilt of ancient music gives way to the boogie wonderland of Sir Ziggy of Stardust. It’s a Medieval Night Fever! Where’s “Jive Talkin’” by Sir Brothers of Gibb? If they ever make this into a musical, can Rosie O’Donnell play Rizzo?
Star Heath Ledger opens this movie in dreadlocks looking much like an extra in Battlefield: Earth. Heath’s traveling buddies – his boys – are primarily comic relief – over at Disney these guys would be animated warthogs or smart-alecky camels.
Sir Heath wishes to joust but he cannot because he is of lowly birth, and the rules dictate you must be of noble blood. Thus, Heath must feign nobility, much like Lady Madonna or Sir Kathleen of Turner.
On the road to the joust Heath encounters a bare-assed Geoffrey Chaucer, the writer who would eventually become famous – as soon as somebody invents pencil and paper. Chaucer’s job is to crack jokes as he introduces Sir Heath to the jousting fans – he’s a regular Robin Williams Hood. “Thanks, I’ll be here all week,” he cracks. Clever quips to come: “So what do you do?” and “Is this your wife?”
Lo and behold, Sir Heath becomes a champion jouster! He’s Sir Tiger of Woods. How he loves to point his stick! And what young male star doesn’t?
All’s well until Heath goes ga-ga over beguiling newcomer Shannyn Sossamon. Hottie Shannyn is exponentially better looking than the rest of the middle ages, proving either that she’s some sort of alien/medieval hybrid or a really good CGI animation voiced by Demi Moore.
“Call me a fox,” Shannyn says, “for that is what I am to you.” The script thus stretches to coin the term “Foxy Lady,” later to be popularized in song by Sir Jimi of Hendrix.
A Knight’s Tale features some of the worst extras I’ve seen on the big screen since townsfolk with torches chased the Frankenstein monster over the Universal backlot. “Rah!” shouts one toothless soul as he hoists a giant Styrofoam finger. “Get your blood pudding and shepherd’s pie here!”
Who knew that the Nike swoosh was the creation of a Medieval blacksmith – particularly one fighting for gender equality? The girls are more than equal in one way – any woman in this movie has more teeth than all the men combined.
A Knight’s Tale could use some teeth in more ways than one.
Photos Copyright ©2001 Columbia Pictures