Okay, a gigantic nerd.
Okay, fine. A gigantic fucking nerd. As in, the “reads comics, listens to metal, and girds his wall with medieval weaponry,” that type of nerd. I even worked at a Renaissance Faire once. So, yes, I am a nerd.
Knights of Badassdom is a movie made for people like myself. I’ll explain by describing it in a single sentence, and you can judge for yourself whether or not you will have any interest this movie based on whether or not my recap interests you, or even makes sense to you.
Heartbroken Doom Metal guitarist Jason Stackhouse is shanghaied by his friends, Steve Zahn and a shrooming Tyrion Lannister, into joining a LARP competition, where he must battle a real-life demon and win the heart of River Tam.
Are you with me? If so, I’m impressed, because I didn’t even get all of those references. Anyhow, if my synopsis intrigues you, read on.
This film stars Ryan Kwanten, who has always been one of the highlights in the cast of True Blood, and he’s suitable if a bit dull here. Though he’s still a bit of a loser who spends far too much time on his chosen hobby (doom metal), he functions as the straight man to millionaire Steve Zahn and wacky drunken pothead Peter Dinklage. Together, the three friends live in a castle owned by Zahn, although it’s never explained where his lazy character acquired his millions (just that it was ‘accidental’). When Kwanten’s girlfriend dumps him due to her disdain for his proclivities, his friends attempt to cheer him up by feeding him booze and pot until he passes out and then dragging him to a Live Action Role Playing event he has no particular interest in (at least until he meets hottie Summer Glau).
While in the woods, Peter Dinklage eats a bag of mushrooms, Steve Zahn struggles to become a 27th level wizard, and a real demon is accidentally unleashed through the use of a book of magic. When they eventually learn that this demon is not a part of the LARPing, the friends must band together to destroy the creature.
As I mentioned, Kwanten is a little wasted here, as his character veers towards the dull despite the actor’s natural comedic skills. The best performances belong to Peter Dinklage, who elicits cheers in his final scene, and Jimmi Simpson, who plays Steve Zahn’s twerpy rival for the title of Greatest Wizard. Summer Glau, while always worth seeing, doesn’t have much to do either. A cameo from comedian Brian Posehn is also welcome.
The film’s production was a troubled one, with filming having begun in 2010 with the film only being released in late 2013. Director Joe Lynch tweeted #notmycut in reference to the studio’s meddling. I don’t know what was going on behind the scenes here, and honestly, I don’t particularly care. I just wanted to watch some actors I admire put on goofy costumes and screw around.
As far as that goes, I enjoyed this movie. The film would have benefited from a bit more “splatstick,” as it seems to be attempting to place itself in a category with films like The Monster Squad and Army of Darkness. With a cast like this and a premise this entertaining, they might have been able to approach the lofty goofiness of those two classics, but they never quite pull it off. Still, I laughed a good bit watching Knights of Badassdom, and most importantly, the film’s moral is a sound one: the dumb nerd shit you do is not a waste of time, because you might need to use it to fight a demon some day.