There is this weird subsection of my movie collection that are movies that I’m inexplicably obsessed with. These movies are sometimes good, sometimes terrible. Honestly, most of them make little to no sense and for some reason incite very specific emotional responses in me. I’ve decided to go ahead and chronicle some of these movies for the P-Mag crowd, with winning commentary from both myself and the roommates I will subject to these movies.
Warning, there is little thematic connection to these movies, and they may at times cross language barriers. What is most important is that they just continue the theme of slightly oversharing that is part of most blogging ventures.
My first movie is one that not enough people remember, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court. It wasn’t the only “kid who plays baseball” movie in the ’90s (i.e. Little Big League, Angels in the Outfield, The Sandlot). It wasn’t even the only one with Thomas Ian Nicholas (Rookie of the Year), but it had time travel, and that makes everything a million times better.
Calvin Fuller is a the perfect ’90s teen lead. He’s awkward. He’s bullied by his teammates and rivals, who use perfectly ’90s insults like, “Hasta la vista, Fuller.” He seems to be a bit of a loner. He plays baseball for the “Knights” (FORESHADOWING), like a good American, suburban kid, watched closely by his loving parents and his bratty “I get your room if you get killed,” threatening sister. After striking out and disappointing everyone, again, an earthquake strikes and Calvin falls through a crack in the dugout to Arthurian times. He accidentally thwarts a mysterious thieving Black Knight, gets whisked off to Camelot, meets King Arthur, falls in love with Princess Katey, King Arthur’s youngest daughter, gets implicated in her kidnapping by the treacherous Lord Belasco, rescues her, competes in a tournament for the eldest Princess Sarah’s hand in marriage, manages to save Camelot from Lord Belasco in this tournament, and make it home in time to win the baseball game.
I cannot tell you how much I love how ridiculous and convoluted this movie is. While that basic summary is already too much, the details are even better.
In the middle of his first night in this castle, Calvin is doing awkward karate in his underwear and the younger daughter, Princess Katey stumbles upon this. This is the start of their epic love story. She isn’t subtle about liking what she sees and I love that about her. In the same scene, Calvin has been gone from home for like 6 hours and already misses his whole (slightly disappointed in him) family. Calvin is not a normal teenager. He also apparently took karate to help him defend himself from bullies. Calvin is the perfect ’90s underdog.
Calvin also apparently knows a lot about metallurgy because of 8th grade metal shop. Well, my early 2000s technology class was barely allowed to touch any of the machinery so that explains why I have no basis of comparison. He had roller blades made for Katey. He later has a bike made for her. It has training wheels. Most importantly, he made her a Big Mac. To ’90s kids, that’s pretty much true love. How aren’t you madly invested in this teenage love story?
The movie is also full of great twists. I’m using “great” loosely here. Calvin is pouring his heart out to Katey through her closed bedroom door, but TWIST she’s been taken hostage by Lord Belasco. (Lord Belasco is a holdout from slightly older more racist movie tropes, i.e. brown/racially other, British accent, streak of grey hair, always creeping around, yelling at knights and inappropriately seducing Princess Sarah.) Another TWIST happens when the supposedly evil Black Knight has been stealing food to give to poor villagers. The BEST TWIST is at the end of the film when the girl power ’90s takes over.
I like most that this movie glosses over the whole Guinevere and Lancelot thing and pretends that King Arthur had a happy life with Guinevere and had two beautiful daughters and Camelot fell apart just because he was heartbroken when she died.
One of the best parts of this movie is the completely lax use of time travel. Calvin literally falls through a crack through time and space via some impressive ’90s CGI and people just accept this awkward kid in a baseball uniform and a backpack. I don’t expect that in a children’s movie they would immediately try to burn him at the stake, but the fact that their only question about where he came from is solved in a quick duel at the 12-minute mark requires more suspension of disbelief than usual. Calvin also uses the power of “combat rock” to win, and I am mystified why his Discman and earbuds manage to prove his might and somehow allow him sit at the King’s table. This is probably why Camelot is in decline.
Princess Sarah has also convinced King Arthur that a good way to honor their guest is to spend a fortnight training with the weapons master. I’m pretty sure that’s the equivalent of visiting a friend and them sending you to the gym for a week because it’s good for you and that friend needs to be eliminated immediately. There is no proper explanation as to why this stranger child gets weapons training, other than he will eventually need this for the climactic tournament, and to introduce the super dreamy weapons trainer, Master Kane, who is in love with Princess Sarah. Also to introduce their totally egalitarian weapons training for ladies as well.
Calvin also has a range of things in his backpack that seem to work in Medieval times, despite the fact that the technology doesn’t exist.
The contents of Calvin’s Backpack:
- Discman & earbuds (which is also used as a laser pointer, because Calvin is MacGyver)
- large flashlight
- super glue
- Swiss army knife
- roller blades
- chewing gum
- several candy bars
Upon rewatch, I’m very concerned as to why this boy carries any of this with him to baseball games. He might be a criminal mastermind. Seriously, what requires chewing gum, super glue and a flashlight? Jewel heists, that’s what.
The movie ends with the villain getting trapped in his tournament tent. That’s right, he is thwarted by a teenager (with an assist from the mysterious Black Knight) and some excess fabric.
BLACK KNIGHT REVEAL: IT’S PRINCESS SARAH. SHE WINS THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE HER OWN HUSBAND. EVERYTHING IS ’90s AND GIRL POWER. SHE CHOOSES HER TRUE LOVE, MASTER KANE.
Calvin has to fall back to the present, in time to remember all he’s learned from his journeys and apply it to a true test of character, baseball. Just in case this isn’t hammered home enough, his baseball bat is called Excalibur. Because it’s 1995, Calvin manages to hit a home run and score the winning runs. As a thank you for saving Camelot, Merlin (who has been so lackluster the entire movie I forgot to mention him), has brought Katey forward THROUGH TIME AND SPACE FOR THEIR TEENAGE LOVE. Also King Arthur. I guess Sarah and Master Kane didn’t make the cut. The end. Don’t bother asking what happens to Camelot, surely (I’m assuming) Queen Sarah will figure it out.
The cast is full of recognizable faces, starting with a perfectly ’90s kid in Thomas Ian Nicholas. King Arthur is played by Joss Ackland who is only important to me because he was also in the very ’90s The Mighty Ducks. Princess Katey is played by Paloma Baeza who is recognizable for small parts in lots of British things, most notably the miniseries The Way We Live Now.
Princess Sarah is played by Kate Winslet, who you would’ve never expected to win any awards for acting after watching that performance. Master Kane is played by James Bond himself, Daniel Craig. His hair is terrible. He is wearing tights. He is great.
I should point out that the insignia on Daniel Craig/Master Kane’s tournament shield is a unicorn so… that’s one for P-Mag.
This movie was probably already dated when it came out in 1995, as that happens in children’s movies.
The pop culture references and slang usage is spectacular, as a lot of poorly written dialogue is based around trying to decipher the “bad is good” riddle that stumped everyone in the ’90s. Upon meeting King Arthur, Calvin says, “Cool,” which of course leads to people throwing bear pelts at him. This is the level of hijinks you should expect in this film, also ’90s girl power. THE PRINCESS SAVES HERSELF.
The Roommate Summary
Unfortunately for my roommates, they will be subjected to this experiment, if they want to spend any time in the living room. Luckily for me, they contribute more to the movie than I ever could alone.
For example, when discussing “the sisters bonding over their true loves” scene, my roommates, both of whom have sisters (I don’t), shared this:
“I would’ve been sitting on my sister’s chest to try to prevent her from breathing.”
“My sister would’ve punched me and pushed me off the bed.”
Excellent counterpoints, roommates.
So, as a final recap of this movie (and perhaps why I love this movie):
Karishma: “Seriously, how big was his backpack?”
Roommate: “Sizeable. It had the whole ’90s in it.”