It’s always good to see these kids today with the clothes and the hair into some of the same things that not only I was into but also some of the stuff that has stood the test of time. The story of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table is one of those things that just seems to captivate kids of each and every generation and age. I mean, whether it was Disney and “The Sword in the Stone” or even the more adult-oriented “Excalibur” or “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail,” it seems to be one of those unshakable tales that works for just about everyone. Writer/director Joe Cornish is now in on the fun with a fresh new twist on the tale with “The Kid Who Would be King”.
Starring son of current Hollywood legend Andy Serkis, Louis Ashbourne Serkis plays Alex, a high schooler who spends his days as an only child being raised by a single mother, hanging out with his best friend in Bedders (Dean Chaumoo), and running from school bullies Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris). While running from his enemies after detention, Alex winds up in a construction zone where he sees the hilt of a sword in a pillar. Upon removing it and taking it home, he realizes that it is in fact the storied Excalibur, and he finds it just in time as he is told that he is the lineage of King Arthur himself and upon meeting Merlin (played by both Angus Imrie and Sir Patrick Stewart), he begins a journey to save the world from the returning Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) with allies both current and new.
Really, the best way for me to review this film is to do so in the words of one of the coolest people I know in my niece, Aria, whose review was simply “I would rate this PG-13” (which is actually a level higher than its actual rating). The script itself is a lot of fun (if not about twenty minutes longer than it should be… and at over two hours is a gamble given that this film is being marketed at kids), but there is some darker material here than there should be, especially as Morgana’s story is being told. My niece did a great job of knowing when to look away and not to, but if they softened this up a bit, I feel like this would be better for its target demographic. (Lesson of this part of the review for parents: do your research beforehand to be sure. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law doing so helped it sit a bit better for me as we went through this journey together, as they knew what to look for.)
This was the first time that I was able to bring her and her parents with me to a screening, and the second litmus test here actually fared a bit better. At about the two-thirds mark, I leaned over and asked if she needed to go to the restroom and she simply shook her head. She sat all the way through this film while at no point seemed bored or distracted. She simply seemed to just be taking it all in and enjoying the ride, smiling at the right moments, totally focused at the right moments, and I may have even caught a little cheer here and there.
The third and final test came as the film ended. After the credits rolled (which I do sit all the way through), I met them outside the auditorium and Aria was just as excited as she was when I met her outside the theater getting ready for the adventure. Seeing her smile as she and her parents were preparing themselves for what the rest of the day held for them warmed my heart in a way that cannot give me any other choice than to give a very favorable review of “The Kid Who Would be King” to all types of audiences, although I might be hesitant for the younger set for the Morgana sequences alone.