from Film Forum, 11/29/01
Looking for laughs? Keep looking. Black Knight, directed by Gil Junger (10 Things I Hate About You), offers us the latest vehicle for popular comedian Martin Lawrence. It's billed as a comedy, but seems more sick than silly.
Martin Lawrence plays Jamal Walker, a theme park employee who gets transported back to the Middle Ages. There, after realizing that this is not just another elaborate theme park, he becomes motivated to join an uprising against a wicked king (Kevin Conway).
Bob Smithouser writes, "Black Knight is a painfully unfunny, sloppily made film. There's no real story to care about, not an original idea within miles, and the gags are as stupid as they are offensive." He notes, "This may be a comedy, but the film's surprising amount of violence is played straight. Some is fairly graphic."
"Martin Lawrence overplays his role in a shameless display of mugging; shucking and jiving," says Michael Elliott. "Black Knight is a silly exercise that will quickly become tiresome to all but the most enthusiastic Martin Lawrence fan." He observes only the most general of moral lessons at work: "Jamal moves from a 'every man for himself' mentality to a more altruistic, community-minded outlook."
Tom Snyder (Movieguide) seems to have attended a different film. "Black Knight is a funny, well-made comedy that contains some touching, heroic moments. Martin Lawrence once again does a very good job as the comical hero." He is bothered only by "foul language and sexual content."
"This movie does have a few funny moments because of the period in history," says Holly McClure, "but [Lawrence] still depends on sexual humor to make it work instead of his comedic timing."
Douglas Downs (Christian Spotlight on the Movies) has nothing complimentary to say: "Black Knight may unfortunately need to be reclassified as a disaster film instead of a comedy. If you need to waste some time and money—then this is the film for you. If you took [profane language] out of Martin's dialogue—he would be almost speechless!"
Paul Bicking (Preview) believes that "Crowds will really enjoy this mix of humor, slapstick, adventure and personal discovery." That doesn't mean he recommends it. "Explicit sexual content, graphic violence and obscenity-laden dialogue dethrone the good messages of Black Knight."
The harshest judgment comes from J. Robert Parks (The Phantom Tollbooth), who declares, "This Martin Lawrence vehicle is so awful, so pathetic, so genuinely horrible that words cannot adequately describe its shortcomings. The first half hour of Black Knight is merely boring, but that felt like pure joy compared to the film's last hour. The movie trots out every possible clichÉ. Along the way, Martin does so much mugging for the camera I began to wonder if there was some deep psychological problem on display."