Movie #14: Knights of Badassdom

I do love a good genre spoof. There are often a lot of inside jokes (most of which I actually get) and fun cameos. Often the plot is nothing too original, but that’s OK. In the case of Knights of Badassdom, the genre is fantasy role-play — specifically LARP (or live-action role-play) — where players not only imagine themselves playing characters in a fantasy quest or battle, they actually dress and act the part. The opening prologue introduces a long-lost book of sorcery which was meant to summon angels but ended up summoning demons. It doesn’t take a character with high craft points to figure out that the premise of the movie is going to be “pretend fantasy gone horribly, actually wrong”. The cast is definitely a genre-nerd’s dream. Best buds Eric (archetypal nerd-actor Steve Zahn) and Hung (played by everyone’s favourite Lannister, Peter Dinklage, from Game of Thrones) drag main character Joe (played by True Blood‘s Ryan Kwanten) to a weekend LARP to get over being dumped by his high-school sweetheart (Margarita Levieva from Revenge). Other fantasy teammates include Danny Pudi (Abed from Community) and genre-babe Summer Glau (River from Firefly and so much more) as Joe’s rebound girl. If you have never played a fantasy role-playing game (live-action or otherwise), it might all seem simply like nerd-bashing (in fact, they’ve even included a gang of redneck paintball hunters as audience-stand-ins for any anti-nerds out there). Nevertheless, there is a healthy dose of cleverness and humour that shows that this movie is a labour of love and meant to be a kind of fan-service for all the people who have enjoyed this kind of entertainment. Frankly, I wish that they had more scenes around the actual game, instead of focusing so much on the demonic horror. I assume the writers were trying to broaden the appeal of the movie, trying to include fans of B-movie horror as well as B-movie romance. That’s all fine and good, but it’s when they poke fun at the overwrought rivalries, the game-master power-trips, the exaggerated melodrama, pretentious faux-medievalspeak, and the inherent tongue-in-cheek nature of these games that the movie is most enjoyable. (I love when each team is introduced with a punny fantasy joke name — “Gnomeland Security” and “The Norse Whisperers” are two of my faves.) All in all, the movie is fun and diverting. It clearly doesn’t have the budget or originality to be much more, but that’s definitely enough to bring back some memories and a few hearty chuckles. (3.5 out of 5)

14 down, 36 to go.

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