Awfully Good: A Kid in King Arthur's Court w/ Daniel Craig and Kate Winslet

In honor of Joe Cornish's long awaited ATTACK THE BLOCK follow-up, THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING, we're taking a look at the last children's movie that took on King Arthur…


A Kid in King Arthur's Court (1995)


Director: Michael Gottlieb
Stars: Thomas Ian Nicholas, Kate Winslet, Daniel Craig

A Kid in King Arthur's Court poster

Merlin kidnaps a child against his will and brings him back in time to medieval Camelot to fight grown adults with weapons.

The cocaine floating around Hollywood in 1994 must've been pretty primo stuff, because Disney's slate of live-action movies for 1995 was insane. In that one year alone, the studio released OPERATION DUMBO DROP, HEAVYWEIGHTS, MAN OF THE HOUSE, TALL TALE, THE BIG GREEN, TOM AND HUCK and A KID IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT. It's like mainlining my entire childhood in one release schedule.

In terms of quantity over quality, some of those movies have held up over the years (HEAVYWEIGHTS forever!). But others—like A KID IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT—not so much.

king arthur kate winslet daniel craig
The three young stars stared off at the bright future of their careers.

It's tempting to simply trash this film for how derivative, cheap, and just generally lazy it is. But at the end of the day, it's an adaptation of Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" from the director of MR. NANNY and MANNEQUIN. The tagline they put on the poster was "Joust Do It." Disney didn't even pretend they were trying when they were making this movie.

If you make amends with the fact that it's terrible, A KID IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT works better as a reminder of how special a time the 90s was for children's cinema. A time where the hero could uses the laser inside his portable CD player to straight up murder someone. Or put the entirety of known human history in jeopardy by "inventing" bicycles and McDonalds Big Macs hundreds of years early just to get laid.

And like that Katey quickly became everyone's favorite Disney princess.

Thomas "Funky" Ian "Butt Lovin'" Nicholas from ROOKIE OF THE YEAR stars as Calvin Fuller, the unlucky kid who Merlin accidentally sucks back in time. The wizard mistakes Calvin's baseball team The Knights for actual medieval warriors and instead of sending him back to his time, still tasks the child with infiltrating the Round Table and bringing down an oppressive shadow regime who's silently taken control of Camelot from an aging King Arthur. Yep, definitely a job for someone who can barely pick up a sword. (Also, side note: I don't know what happened during production, but this flick has some of the worst screen combat I've ever seen. Watch as the legendary Arthur holds Excalibur straight out in front of him and waits for stuntmen to gently tap it!)

It didn't take long for the American Pie series to take a darker turn. 

Much of A KID IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT is spent marveling at just what an historic moron the title character is. For whatever reason, Calvin doesn’t seem to understand that he's gone back in time and never bothers trying to blend in. He just continually talks about modern things and shows off his backpack full of anachronistic items. Take a shot every time Calvin does something that could cause drastic changes to the timeline… Such as plugging his CD player in to a horn and building the first stereo to bring grunge rock to the high court. What about giving his rollerblades to the local blacksmith so he can build another pair for the girl he likes? Or introducing superglue to the medieval time period so he can permanently attach his crotch to his horse and not fall off. Hell, at the end of the movie he even gives someone his Swiss army knife as a goodbye gift.

The Ghost of Movies Future introduces a young Kate to something called MOVIE 43.

But the best part about revisiting this movie was discovering that it also stars Daniel Craig and Kate Winslet.

Yes, that Daniel Craig and that Kate Winslet.

Craig, sporting a truly unfortunate bowl-cut hairstyle in one of his first onscreen roles, plays the royal weapons expert who trains Calvin to be a warrior. Winslet, who already had HEAVENLY CREATURES and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY under her belt when she took this gig, is the older princess and Craig's forbidden lover. Their star-crossed romance is a sub-sub-plot of the film but it's still a lot of fun to watch the young future stars act in such a subpar vehicle. Winslet gives it her best, but her role is pretty thankless, aside from a late game twist. The future James Bond, on the other hand, spends most of his time looking goofy and uncomfortable, save for one brief scene where he gets to show off just a glimmer of his comedy chops.

At least hehad the James Bond sexual innuendo down at a young age.

Also weird and worth noting is the film's bad guy, played by Art Malik from TRUE LIES. His medieval villain is—no joke—a political leader who a) steals from the people for personal gain, then lies and blames it on someone else in power, b) preys on young women and threatens them with violence if they don't sleep with him, and c) keeps talking about making Camelot great again. Maybe this movie does have some weird time travel powers after all.

And now, for your amusement, more shots of young Daniel Craig with a bowlcut.


The worst moments of the kid using 90s slang in medieval times.

Bad special effects, bad fight scenes and the best of Daniel Craig and Kate Winslet.

The youngest princess spies on Calvin while he's changing and talks about her "nocturnal transgressions." So this is like X-rated by Disney standards.

Make Camelot Great Again! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Calvin can't use a weapon
  • Calvin does something that could affect modern history
  • Calvin's backpack magically produces something that he needs
  • Calvin is surprised that something doesn't work like it does in the movies
  • Someone of yore uses modern lingo
  • Someone talks about making Camelot great again

Double shot if:

  • Calvin corrects someone's counting


Thanks to Kent for suggesting this week's movie!


Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: JoBlo.com



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