Sunday, 10 May 2009

Movie Review - King Ralph

King Ralph is a surprisingly enjoyable film starring John Goodman as Ralph Jones, an American who, after a freak accident wipes out the entire British royal family, finds himself hurtled onto the throne with the weight of a country on his shoulders. A weight he finds difficult enough to handle in itself, but when he falls for failed stripper (“I just couldn’t do it!”) Miranda (Camille Coduri) and his kingly responsibilities put pressure on his personal life, he shows signs of cracking under the strain. To make things even worse Lord Percival Graves (John Hurt) has his own reasons for wanting to get Ralph off the throne. In fact, the only thing keeping Ralph together is the help of Sir Cedric Willingham (Peter O’Toule), but can even his skills overcome Ralph’s lack of aptitude for the job he’s had thrust upon him?

This is a very silly film indeed, but it’s also a lot of fun. A lot of the success for this film has to go down to the performances of Goodman and especially O’Toole, who really stands out in this film. There’s a lot of humour derived from the American in England and riffraff on the throne themes, and digs at both American and English cultures, but it’s never done nastily and should get plenty of laughs on both sides of the continent. With John Hurt’s outrageously over the top performance and an excellent supporting cast including Leslie Phillips and Joely Richardson (as you’ve never heard her before! – trust me in this one…), this film delivers a lot more than I expected.

It obviously had a pretty low budget but David Ward, the Director, makes good use of the available resources. Nothing spectacular technically but it’s acceptable and there is one impressive sight gag that must have taken hours to set up (you’ll know it when you see it). As far as language and content goes, the film occasionally seems a little risqué considering its PG rating. Nothing too terrible though. Many moments in the film with leave you with a smile on your face, with only one moment being truly laugh out loud.

You could argue that it’s very stupid and you’d be quite right. But it does have a certain charm and joie de vive that allows it to get away with this. I would only advise seeing this if you’re in a silly mood or want some very undemanding entertainment, but for what it is, King Ralph is a good little film. Much, much better than I expected! There's also a good twist near the end that convinces me that it's worth more than 3 stars. Some will think 4 stars is being generous, but they can always go and write their own review… :-D

Writing Credits

Emlyn Williams - (novel Headlong)
David S. Ward - (screenplay)

Other Information

Length: 97 minutes

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