Movie Review: The Kid Who Would Be King

Release: January 25, 2019
Runtime: 116 Minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
Written and Directed by: Joe Cornish
Produced by: Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Cast: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, Angus Imrie, with Rebecca Ferguson and Patrick Stewart
Old school magic meets the modern world in the epic adventure THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING. Alex (Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he's just another nobody, until he stumbles upon the mythical Sword in the Stone, Excalibur. Now, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and, together with the legendary wizard Merlin (Stewart), take on the wicked enchantress Morgana (Ferguson). With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be.
HASHTAG: #KidWhoWouldBeKing

The story of King Arthur, his sword in the stone, and Lady of Lake is timeless, a classic. It deserves to be told time and again so that each generation may enjoy it. The Kid Who Would Be King is not a remake or a reboot or anything that suggests it might be something less than a fresh take on a classic.   

The Kid Who Would Be King is entirely charming from start to finish.  From the time the title credits roll with Medieval ominous animations, until the end credits, I was completely engrossed in the charm and creativity of story. We have all seen three or four movie versions of the sword in the stone legend, but this story felt fresh in the hands of writer/director Joe Cornish.  The schoolhouse setting and the school-age tribulations made the story relatable and earnest.  If it weren’t for all of the fantasy involved, The Kid Who Would be King could be the story of any middle-schooler.

And as a family adventure story, The Kid Who Would Be King presents timely, and necessary, aspirational themes without coming across as preachy.  The idea of making ones enemies into allies to defeat apocalyptic terrors was novel and fantastic.  “The knight’s code,” a list of attributes to which the characters of the film aspire to, is welcomed counter-programming to today’s divisive culture.  It is never out of style to be chivalrous, trust-worthy or to honor those you love, as the film suggests, without being heavy-handed.    I appreciated that the film worked-in its noble themes into the action and adventure.  It made the lofty themes more palatable for a young audience.

The young cast was very charismatic.  Angus Imrie (as a Young Merlin) stole every scene that he was in.  He had a way of casting spells which is sure to delight young audiences.  Louis Serkis (as Alex) also gave a very convincing performance. It was great to see a diverse group of children as the heroes of the story.  The young cast was such a hit on-screen that cameos played by the adults, Rebecca Ferguson (as Morgana) and Patrick Stewart (as Merlin), were almost unnecessary.

While The Kid Who Would Be King contains some scary images too intense for little, little kids, those images are gentle enough for anyone older than, maybe, seven years.  I watched the movie in an auditorium full of tweens, and they loved it. The only negative critique of the film is that it felt a little long at a two-hour runtime.  The ending felt purposefully long, but that one ding is not enough to keep me from recommending the film.

The Kid Who Would Be King has everything that a parent could want from a family film.  Definitely something to take-in to beat the January doldrums.  Bring the kids. Bring all the kids in the neighborhood, even.  No one will disappointed.  The Kid Who Would Be King is playing everywhere now.

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