If you read this often, this is not a surprise to you, but I love a good, low budget, silly genre flick. It’s why I love SyFy Saturday Night Creature Features (yes, Sharknado 3 has started production). The best thing about these types of movies is that everyone involved is well aware of the nonsense factor of the movie and is there just to have a good time. Case in point, Knights of Badassdom – written by a couple of LARPers, and directed by a actor/director/producer of these types of flicks. This movie at no point takes itself seriously, and has a really good time while not doing that.
Director Joe Lynch loves B-Grade horror and genre movies, he’s been in a couple, and he takes his infectious sense of fun to a completely insane story. Our hero, Joe, has just been dumped by his lady, Beth, because he’s aimless and happy working in a garage and writing death metal songs…I’m sorry, doom metal songs. Dejected, he heads home to his roommates, Eric and Hung, who are prepping for a big weekend LARP (live-action role-playing …but you knew that because you saw Role Models) event. They get him drunk and high, and dress him up as a knight to join their adventure. The Gamemaster, Ronnie, has an old dispute with Joe, and will only let him join if they do a ‘reanimation spell’. Eric uses a book he got on eBay to perform the spell, and because it just so happens to be a real ancient spell book – it conjures a demon succubus from hell that takes on the form of Joe’s ex – Beth – in her prom dress, because that’s the picture Joe had in his pocket.
Hijinks ensue, mainly because the succubus runs through the various groups of LARPers, eating at will, until Joe and the gang decide to step up and take her out. Yes – it’s exactly as silly as you think. But what will surprise you is the cast:
- Ryan Kwanten plays Joe, and while you still don’t get to hear his original Aussie accent, at least the American one he fakes in this doesn’t have the horrible southern twang you’re used to him using on True Blood. He is exceptionally watchable, and really likeable, and the best thing about him in this movie is that he plays it straight, and lets everyone around him act really over the top – which makes him the audience’s way in. Also – if you haven’t seen the Venom mini-movie that he and Joe Lynch did, check it out.
- Steve Zahn plays Eric, who for some reason that is never explained, is a millionaire. This is why Hung and Joe live with him – in a castle, or at least a house that looks like a castle. Zahn goes completely over the top in this and it fits perfectly. He’s insanely funny.
- Peter Dinklage plays Hung (originally the character was conceived as a Korean-American nerd, then Dinklage said yes, but they didn’t change the name – and it still works). He’s stoned most of the time, but really takes the LARPing seriously, and his bit about training Joe is really funny.
- Jimmi Simpson takes a break from playing creepy guys to play the hilarious Ronnie Kwok as the completely full of himself gamemaster. The running gag about the map being terrible cracked me up at least three times. Also – his headband is funny on its own.
- Margartia Levieva plays the ex-girlfriend and then the demon succubus, Beth. She gets a very brief scene in the beginning, then spends the rest of the movie walking around eating people. The funny part is that it takes people a bit to catch on that she’s a demon, because they just assume she’s part of the LARP event.
- Summer Glau plays Gwen, who is into the LARPing, but only somewhat – she’s mainly there to keep an eye on her cousin, Gunther (played by Brett Gipson), who never seems to break character. She gets a little sweet on Joe, despite having to fend off advances from many other LARPers.
- Danny Pudi plays Lando, and he’s barely in the movie, but he’s really funny for the time he’s there.
- There are some other almost cameos as well – Joshua Malina plays an actor hired to play a monster for the LARP event, Brian Posehn plays Joe’s garage co-worker and doom-metal enthusiast. Michael Gladis from Mad Men plays the King of one of the two armies, and gets to give a hilarious go-get-‘em speech.
Overall – the movie is terrible, but that’s pretty much the point. It’s really funny in parts, but be warned – the cheesy gore level is also high. Rent it, it’s super short and it’s good for a laugh or two!
7 out of 10 – gained points for Jimmi Simpson, who is swiftly becoming a favorite of mine. Lost points for the Beth demon eating people, gross. Gained points for Steve Zahn being hilarious – Lost points for Hung being high all the time. Gained points for the dragon.
Bonus Video 1 – the Venom video. I am hoping that eventually there will be a Venom movie worthy of Venom. Sorry Topher Grace – I like you, but you were a terrible Venom.
Bonus Video 2 – Role Models – an equally hilarious movie with LARPing in it.
Bonus Video 3 – SDCC 2011 panel