Instructions for viewing A Knight's Tale: 1) Remove stick from ass; 2) Sit back and smile. The movie, which takes place in 14th century England and stars Aussie hunk Heath Ledger, isn't historically accurate, or even well written. It's painfully predictable and really cheesy. It's also way too much fun.
A Knight's Tale is about a bunch of guys proving they have the biggest... swords. The movie follows poor squire William Thatcher (Ledger) as he enters a series of jousting tournaments, impersonates royalty, finds a fan base, meets the princess and battles the nasty bluebloods for happily-ever-after. It's a magnetic poetry plot, pieced together with pre-packaged story points. What makes A Knight's Tale jive is a standout supporting cast, some very clever moments, and really exciting fight scenes. Heavy metal takes on new meaning as swords collide and heads bang to the ground, with soldiers knocked off their horses to the tune of Queen's "We Will Rock You."
The movie's soundtrack is totally modern, which would be fine if the songs were better. A slew of tunes from the Mighty Ducks era pollute this film--from "The Boys are Back in Town" to "We Are the Champions." Sometimes, relief comes in the form of mellow techno beats.
A Knight's Tale takes its title from the first Canterbury Tale, written by Geoffrey Chaucer--who is also a character in this flick. Played by Paul Bettany, the hilarious and passionate Chaucer is a sidekick worthy of his own sequel (maybe Chaucer in Love?). Laura Fraser is equally luminous as Cate, a fierce blacksmith who makes magic armor. Heath is solid in his role, as is his true love, a princess played by Shannyn Sossamon. Both are better actors than their material, as is the sexy Rufus Sewell, doing his bad-guy shtick.
Overall verdict? It's difficult to admit it in print, but yeah, we dug it. Rufus and Heath are totally hot, Shannyn and Laura are totally cool, and Paul Bettany is absolutely drool-worthy. Mad props to the cast of A Knight's Tale for forgetting about their big swords and having tons of fun. And letting us watch.
--By Faran Krentcil
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