A Kid In King Arthur's Court

on August 11, 1995 by Kim Williamson
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For fantasy to work, two elements are required: an audience willing to suspend its disbelief, and a film able to create its own logically consistent world. Although this older children's film has audience-pleasing attributes -- a boy on a mission, a girl in love, a father figure struggling to regain his stature it too often squanders them by playing fast and loose with its world's rules, as if the 10-year-old crowd toward which this Disney pickup is pitched will be too unsophisticated to spot the spit.
When a strikeout-king Little Leaguer from Reseda, Calif. ("Rookie of the Year's" Thomas Ian Nicholas, in a playing-to-the-bleachers performance) falls through an earthquake fissure, he finds himself plummeting from the high skies of Arthurian England (where he lands uninjured). By the time he returns, by falling down a well but "awaking" in his body pre-earthquake just in time to hit a winning home run, he's been knighted by King Arthur (an even worse Joss Ackland), salvaged Camelot by defeating an evil lord (Art Malik) and won the heart of a young princess (a fine Paloma Baeza). After touching home plate, he sees the king and princess waiting for him in 20th-century duds. Without explanation, the movie ends -- with an Old Ages (and deceased) Merlin catching the baseball 1400 years before.
Director Michael Gottlieb ("Mr. Nanny") and scripters Michael Part and Robert L. Levy throughout take a kitchen-sink approach to their plotting, losing the logic of the piece. As with Trimark's previous setting-of-magic family release, "Trading Mom," the film's look needs to be more enchanting. However, former genre-only moviemaker Trimark (which is handling international) can look to profit by having this film come out via Disney's powerhouse pipeline -- and by having the studio attach to it its newest Mickey Mouse cartoon, "Runaway Brain." However, this G-rated short is a bit shy of enchantment itself, as the usually lovable mouse for much of the seven-minute running time is transformed via mad-scientist brain transfer into a 40-foot-tall, raging monster. The animation, done in Disney's Paris facility and directed by Chris Bailey, is rendered with an eye toward action rather than feeling. Starring Thomas Ian Nicholas. Directed by Michael Gottlieb. Written by Michael Part and Robert L. Levy. Produced by Robert L. Levy, Peter Abrams and J.P. Guerin. A Buena Vista release. Comedy. Rated PG for mild adventure action and language. Running time: 89 min.
Tags: Thomas Ian Nicholas, Directed by Michael Gottlieb, Written by Michael Part, Robert L. Levy, Produced by Robert L. Levy, Peter Abrams, J.P. Guerin, A Buena Vista release, Comedy, studio, baseball, powerhouse, adventure, action
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