Ah, Knights of Badassdom. I remember hearing about this movie a couple of years ago and thinking that it sounded like a great premise. A bunch of friends are LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) and accidentally summon an actual demon. Demon then starts to murder them all and they must defeat it together and send it back to hell. I was really excited for it, especially after hearing that the cast included the amazing Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), the hilarious Steve Zahn (Saving Silverman) and Jimmi Simpson (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and the sexy and awesome Summer Glau (Firefly), among others. I was definitely pumped for this movie a few years ago.
But then time passed, movies came and went, and this sort of…fell by the wayside. I wasn’t sure how it happened. After all, Peter Dinklage has never been hotter thanks to his success on Game of Thrones. The rest of the cast didn’t have a ton of star power, but they had the nerd cred to get butts in seats. I thought perhaps the premise was a little too out there for most audiences, but it still should have made a small splash.
Partly, I blame the movie Your Highness. If you don’t remember Your Highness, then that’s understandable. It was a sub-par movie about medieval warriors who get stoned and try to save a princess. It starred James Franco, Danny McBride, and Natalie Portman, and while it had a few funny moments, the best thing that it gave us was this:
But it wasn’t enough to elevate that movie above something mediocre, and that’s if I’m being generous. So there was that critical and commercial failure, which almost definitely fed into the producers losing faith in Knights of Badassdom. There’s a somewhat similar feel and theme, with weed and monsters and irreverant humor, so perhaps they simply thought that audiences wouldn’t be interested and got scared. They then apparently took it from the director, Joe Lynch, in order to re-edit it, delaying it significantly. Hence, why it was missed by myself and also why Mr. Lynch has disowned the resulting film. Of course, being released on only 13 screens didn’t help, either.
And that really is unfortunate, because the film that shipped out (or at least wound up on Netflix, I’m really not sure if it’s the same version) is actually still really entertaining. The gags are solid and it’s very aware of what it is, a comedy about LARPing and a murderous demon. The characters are all funny, even if the main character is kind of “meh.” The rest all have good chemistry and play their roles with natural 20 charisma. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that.
The movie is rated R, and for good reason. People get ripped apart in this film, and it is not afraid to show you it happening. I appreciate some well placed gore, and this movie had fun with it. If knives through the throat and hearts getting eaten aren’t your thing, then consider yourself warned. But again, this movie is first and foremost a comedy, so it’s not like it’s all that frightening or anything.
Then there’s the demon, which starts off as a lady succubus and eventually turns into something a little more impressive. I liked the transformation, especially because they used an actual, massive, physical puppet. It would have been very easy for them to CGI the creature, even though it’s a low-budget affair, and I’m glad that they didn’t. It made for a very exciting finale, having this thing stomping around while our heroes try desperately to vanquish it, and there was some great comedy in there as well. The ultimate moments of the battle were pretty damn silly, and I wonder if that was one of the re-edited sections, but it was still clever enough to be enjoyable.
So while it’s not the greatest movie ever made, nor is it even the funniest movie to feature LARPing (that honor goes to Role Models), Knights of Badassdom is still a damn good time. It may be funnier with friends and a couple drinks in you, but even without you still will have a good time watching this film. I mean, the Dink is in it, for fuck’s sake! How could you go wrong?