WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A theme park worker falls into a moat and somehow gets transported back to the medieval days of the 1300s. Of course, he doesn't realize that he's actually traveled back through time until about halfway through the film, so he continues to speak his native language, hand out high-fives every now and then and refer to the locals as "dog". But what's this...there is a resistance that wants to overthrow the king and our ignorant theme park worker gets caught in the middle of it all? Don't ask.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Color me surprised, as this movie wasn't nearly as horrible as I thought it would be. I am a Martin Lawrence fan, but he's been on and off of late. I dug him in BLUE STREAK, but thought that BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE stunk up the joint. Then, there was the trailer for this movie and it looked as bad as bad could be. So as I slapped this puppy into my DVD player, I was expecting the worst "fish out of water" story of all-time, but who knew that Lawrence would actually make me laugh again? In fact, it turned out that the film itself was actually pretty light entertainment, with an enjoyable turn from Lawrence (who cracked me up every time he called someone "bra", "homey" or "dog"), some decent chemistry with the local babe and some dignity added via Best Actor nominee Tom Wilkinson, in the thankless role of a drunken old knight.
I'm also sure that a film like this will go down much easier on dvd/video, since our expectations for "stay at home" flicks aren't as high as the ones we have to drive out to see. In this case, the plot line is as predictable as the fate of Ed Burns' next relationship with a hot babe (natch!), the battle at the end of the film feels like it belongs in another movie (stick to comedy, fellas) and a few of the big "jokes" (like Lawrence getting everyone to dance to his kind of music) don't work, but the smaller moments do, and that was enough for me to consider the overall 90 minutes, fairly entertaining. Of course, it's to note that you really should have an affinity for Lawrence's comedy in the first place, since just like any Adam Sandler movie, fans of the man are likely to dig his stylings more than those who think that he's nothing more than an idiot. I thought that several of his one-liners were a hoot, I dug his "fish out of water" shtick pretty much all the way and I especially liked the final scene of the film, which despite screaming "sequel", was unexpected and nicely handled. Basically, see it if you dig Lawrence and aren't looking for originality.
This disc actually features a bunch of extras. First up is a full-length commentary track with director Gil Junger. The guy comes off like a pretty grateful and respectful director, seemingly gracious to have been given this opportunity and really happy to be working with Martin Lawrence (although he does overdo his reverence for the man a tad). It’s not the greatest commentary track of all-time, but he keeps talking throughout, so if you’re interested, you should get some decent info out of it. “Martin on Moviemaking” are two scenes over which we see Martin Lawrence in a small corner of the screen, speaking about them. I didn’t care much for this because Lawrence is too “serious” and even though he does present some interesting info, I was bored. So I moved on to “Outtakes” from which I expecting minutes of endless fun (especially since the director kept telling us in the commentary about all the funny improv that went down on the set), but all we get is another stale 1:40 of cut screw-ups. What the?? This is a Martin Lawrence comedy dvd, folks…how about giving us the funnies!!!
We also get a few featurettes, one called “A Timeless Friendship” (8 minutes) featuring behind the scenes stuff, movie snippets and interviews with Tom Wilkenson, director Junger, Marsha Thomason and Martin Lawrence (actually being quite funny here). There’s another one called “Parapets and Pratfalls” (6 minutes) which basically covers Lawrence’s stunts in the film (most of which were done by his own stuntman). Not too interesting, in my opinion. Next up are two “Storyboard to Scene Comparisons”, which I’ve always enjoyed, especially when they’re presented as they are here, with the storyboards being shown at the same time as the scenes themselves. Interesting for those who like seeing this kind of stuff. “Construction” is a 4-minute featurette talking about…well, the construction of the castles and sets from the movie and ”Choreography” is a 3-minute behind the scenes about the dance rehearsals starring 80s pop diva, Paul Abdul (who hasn’t changed one bit incidentally). Why Emilio…why?? We also get 3 deleted scenes (with or without director’s commentary), which are “okay” but nothing to quake about, two movie trailers of this film, and two trailers more trailers, one for UNFAITHFUL and another for MINORITY REPORT. Phew.
Overall, Fox certainly has gone out of their way to put some money and features into this DVD, but really, the movie itself is only going to interest those who enjoy the humor of Martin Lawrence, and not too many other people. I didn't think the movie stunk as much as I thought it would, in fact, I laughed in several spots and on the whole, enjoyed myself very lightly. But if you did like this film in the theatres, chances are that you'll appreciate all of the extras as well, so you might as well buy the puppy and watch it over and over and over again. For the rest of ya'll, just skip it and wait for a real "good comedy" to come out soon.