[box cover]

Knight's Tale

"I'm a writer; I give the truth scope," says the character of Chaucer in Brian Helgeland's silly but occasionally entertaining film A Knight's Tale. As director, producer, and writer, Helgeland took those words to heart by incorporating elements of sports, music, and speech from 20th-century popular culture into a movie about medieval jousting during the 1370s. The results are a goofy action/romance/buddy flick that tries to be many things, but ultimately succeeds in being a perfect movie for 10-year-old boys. Heath Ledger stars as William Thatcher, a peasant who longs to be a knight — but alas, only those of noble birth are allowed to participate in the sport. Aided by his Wayne's World-type friends — played by Alan Tudyk and the wonderful Mark Addy, and with further assistance from the fast-talking, gambling-addicted Chaucer (Paul Bettany) — William enters the jousting championship with false papers that position him as a nobleman. Of course, he falls for the most unattainable girl (newcomer Shannon Sossaman), and of course, to win the big tournament he must joust against the evil-but-sexy bad boy, Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell). Unless you haven't been to the movies in the past 50 years, you'll know exactly what happens in this rags-to-riches, American Dream of a movie, but along the way there are some funny moments and a bit of exciting action. To pump up the volume and make clear his less-than-serious intent, Helgeland opens the film with the crowd at a jousting match pounding the benches and singing Queen's We Will Rock You. From there, the allusions to American football, baseball, boxing, MTV, rock music (with old standards like Low Rider and Takin' Care of Business), and hip sexiness tumble forth from this two-hour music video. Ledger, with his genial manner and good looks, holds his own as William and probably looks better than he is because of the strong supporting cast — most notably Addy, who is a master of the reaction shot. Columbia TriStar's A Knight's Tale: Special Edition is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35) and Dolby Digital 5.1. The many extras include a good-natured audio commentary with Helgeland and Bettany (the part of Chaucer was written specifically for Bettany, who is a friend of the director); the commentary has the same amiable, light-hearted tone as the film. Also included are some rather bland deleted scenes, an HBO "making-of" featurette (only notable for briefly revealing how some of the stunts were performed and filmed), 11 short and not-very-informative behind-the-scenes featurettes, the music video of Robbie Williams and Queen performing "We are the Champions," theatrical trailers, filmographies, production notes, and a screensaver. Keep-case.
—Kerry Fall

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