A new Richard Bates Jr The project is always a cause for celebration because it is guaranteed to a) make you squirm or b) make you laugh (often in spite of yourself). With King Knight, the writer / director, known for his caustic comedies and grisly horrors, delivers a puzzling property that largely satirizes the New Age self-improvement movement, but with a healthy dose of empowerment and positivity.
The comedy centers around Wiccans Thorn (Matthieu Gray Gubler) and Willow (Angela Sarafyane), romantic partners and leaders of a small town who live in the Californian woods. The group, featured in a couple counseling series, includes gay couple Desmond (Johnny pemberton) and Neptune (Josh fadem), the new couple Rowena (Kate comer) and Perceval (Andy Milonakis), and the politically correct couple Echo (Emilie Chang) and Angus (Nelson franklin). There is also a cat, Lord Whiskers and Barbara crampton.
Bates Jr likes sharp puns and witty aside, and King Knight is full of examples worthy of laughter. The film is also interested in satirizing the popularity of New Age, bohemian Wicca lifestyles, as this is the societal norm of accumulating wealth and starting a family.
So it makes sense that the film’s major incident involves both Willow’s reluctance to get pregnant and the revelation that Thorn lied about his past, especially who he was in high school.
After a successful celebration of Beltane (captured in gyrating slow motion to dance music by Michi Britsch), coven members Percival and Rowena reveal they’re pregnant via a near-immaculate conception (details involve sperm scraped off a computer keyboard and herbs). This opens a recurring rift between Thorn and Willow, the latter of whom uncovers a series of emails describing Thorn’s dark secret: Not only was he class president and prom king in high school, he was voted Most Likely To succeed and
These symbols of conventional popularity are the ultimate form of betrayal of Willow and the other members of the coven, who ban Thorn for a “walkabout” in the California bush. As the group wonder if they will be able to trust their leader again, Thorn inadvertently embarks on a journey of self-discovery, culminating in a Romy and Michèle High school-style reunion where the Coven leader not only performs an obligatory ‘inspirational dance’ in front of the student body, but everyone recognizes what is most important in their life.
King Knight is both a very silly and satirical approach to New Age sensibilities, as well as a heartwarming meditation on accepting your flaws and finding your people. While the storyline is no shortage of jokes at the expense of the coven and their rituals and WASP-y issues, the take-home message is universal: true happiness is obtained by accepting oneself and one’s loved ones, despite (or is it despite?) all faults.
Lest audiences be concerned that it is too gushing and emotional, Bates Jr makes sure the message gets through easily via plenty of ridiculous visual and narrative developments:
- Fancy an animated sequence (courtesy of Nabeeh Bilial) about a character achieving his goal while in a public toilet cubicle? No problem.
- How about a hallucinatory motivational speech from Merlin the Sorcerer (Ray wise)? Yeah, it’s here.
- What about a philosophical discussion of how to approach life’s problems with opposing views presented by a rock and a pine cone (voiced by Aubrey Square and Bates Jr regular AnnaLynne McCord)? Obviously.
The plus: the film is simply funny. Jokes about Australian pop singer Natalie Imbruglia Torn to a recurring passage on how everyone – including the famous French actress Juliette Binoche – has “shit in the ass”, to puns on homosexual relations confusing “hole” and “everything”, King Knight is full of witty lines, scathing reviews, and scathing observations about PC culture.
What makes this work is the heart and childish stupidity of the entire company. King KnightThe message of may ultimately be a little light, but the film is never less than entertaining.