Awfully Good: Black Knight

If my hot tub was a time machine, I would go back and wipe out this time travel comedy from existence...

Black Knight (2001)

Director: Gil Junger
Stars: Martin Lawrence, Tom Wilkinson, Marsha Thomason

Martin Lawrence acts like a jackass in two different time periods.

BLACK KNIGHT was made a decade or two too late. Its style of goofy fish-out-of-water comedy has "late 80s-early 90s" written all over it. It's a truly awful, lowest-common-denominator example of the genre, but it would at least feel more at home alongside stuff like MANNEQUIN, CROCODILE DUNDEE, CITY SLICKERS, KING RALPH, SISTER ACT, ENCINO MAN—you get the idea. However, as it is, BLACK KNIGHT was released in 2001 and everyone involved should've known better and should feel ashamed at what they have done. (Except respected actor Tom Wilkinson, who already looks horribly embarrassed to be a part of this.)

"I don't need this garbage. I was Juntao in RUSH HOUR, dammit!"

Martin Lawrence—hot off the success of BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE—plays Jamal "Sky" Walker, a selfish loser who cleans moats at a medieval theme park. (Although it's later revealed that he also happens to be a chess master and champion boxer in his spare time, so go figure...) Aside from someone blatantly laying out his character flaws, there is no set up to Jamal or his situation before he is thrust back in time. That happens five minutes in (three of which were previously spent with a montage of him comically grooming himself) thanks to the laziest time-travel device ever conceived: the utterly unexplained magic moat. Jamal spots a gold necklace floating in the water and falls in, only to emerge seven centuries earlier.

Green Bay Packers fans made their feelings about Brandon Bostick pretty clear.

What follows is essentially a racist version of ARMY OF DARKNESS where Lawrence adlibs his way through 14th century English society and plays up every possible black stereotype for laughs. Here is an actual line of dialogue spoken in this movie: "Who be I? I be stompin' yo ass you put your hand on me one more again!" One more again. Nobody stopped the actor and asked him to do another take that resembled grammar. BLACK KNIGHT is comprised almost entirely of these "Aw, f*ck it!" moments, where lapses in logic or filmmaking are ignored so Martin Lawrence can say "Damn!" or "Oh shit!" for the hundredth time. Perhaps chief amongst these is how the film either stupidly or bravely skirts around the fact that Martin Lawrence is a black man during this time period without garnering any attention or repercussions. The script writes it off his character being of Moorish descent... and then has him become a lord in charge of the king's security AND fall in love with the one other black—sorry, Moorish person in the entire kingdom. It's sad that Lawrence can travel back nearly a millennia and still not escape the studio-mandated romantic homogeneity.

Every time Martin Lawrence exposed himself on set, the extras would runteldat to the police.

But I don't want to dissect this movie too much, because, well, it's a movie called BLACK KNIGHT starring Martin Lawrence. So here's a list of things that are supposed to be funny in this film:

  • Martin Lawrence has to give a man mouth to mouth... but he's not gay!
  • Martin Lawrence suggests a peasant from 14th century England get some food stamps
  • When his medieval love interest doesn't own a thong, Martin Lawrence offers to "take an old pair of drawers and cut the ass out."
  • Everyone thinks Martin Lawrence is from Normandy, France, but he's actually from Normandie Ave. in Los Angeles. Miscommunication!
  • Martin Lawrence encounters an unsanitary medieval bathroom and has a negative reaction
  • Martin Lawrence doesn't know how to ride a horse properly, resulting in him galloping upside down
  • Martin Lawrence teaches the king's musicians to play Lou Reed and Sly and the Family Stone in five seconds and then leads the entire court in a choreographed dance number
  • Martin Lawrence pitches the construction of a Jamal in the Box fast food chain to people living in 1328.
  • Martin Lawrence accidentally deflowers the Princess as part of his political strategy
  • At the emotional climax, Martin Lawrence gives the rebels a rousing speech about a great king named Rodney King and then teaches them street fighting, wrestling and football tactics to win the final battle

This will be our collective reaction when BAD BOYS III is finally greenlit.

This climactic battle sequence, where Jamal leads a group of rebels against the king, is one of the saddest, sloppiest fight scenes I've ever seen. And don't get me started on the touching emotional moment where Lawrence gives his friend Tom Wilkinson his Air Jordans so he will have better traction for the battle. Or the "crowdpleasing" part where Lawrence embodies the spirit of the legendary Black Knight and becomes a fire-breathing badass fighter. (As in he actually breathes fire...)

This steaming pile of horse excrement is this movie...

None of that matters though because—[SPOILER]—it was all just a dream apparently. Jamal wakes up to the paramedics who saved him from drowning in the moat (despite the fact that he's completely dry) and is an entirely changed man. Now he knows about responsibility and community and honor and upgrades the theme park using his new firsthand knowledge of the medieval time period. Yes, Martin Lawrence, who only moments earlier was banging white princesses and destroying history, now says things like, "Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the presence of fear, yet the will to move on."

... And this man having his face shoved in to this movie is the audience.

Then the movie ends with him tripping in to the moat again, awaking in the Roman Coliseum, and getting eaten by lions. At least it has a happy ending.

Martin Lawrence uses modern slang in medieval times and history will never be the same again.

Martin Lawrence drains the anaconda, freaks out, dances, and is essentially Martin Lawrence.

None of thine ladies' bosoms go bare.

Woosah! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:
  • Martin Lawrence says "Damn!" "Oh shit!" or has a strong reaction to something
  • A black person is called a Moor or a Nubian
  • Martin Lawrence encounters an animal.
  • Someone makes sex noises
  • Something anachronistic happens
Double shot if:
  • Martin Lawrence can't pronounce "donkey."

Thanks to Andre and Michael for suggesting this week's movie!

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

Source: JoBlo.com



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