THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Tuesday, August 15, 1995 TAG: 9508150042 SECTION: DAILY BREAK PAGE: E6 EDITION: FINAL TYPE: Movie Review SOURCE: BY MAL VINCENT, MOVIE CRITIC LENGTH: Medium: 99 lines
THOMAS IAN NICHOLAS (star of the surprise hit ``Rookie of the Year'') shows Princess Katey (Paloma Baeza) and her daddy, King Arthur, that everything that is hot is really ``cool.'' He goes into battle clad in full armor, proclaiming, ``Let's boogie!''
The trouble with ``A Kid in King Arthur's Court'' is that it is not too cool itself.
In fact, this is the most pallid children's movie to be turned out by the Disney factory in quite awhile. It has tacky sets and costumes, with only a sparse crowd of extras at the jousting tournament.
Most of all, in this summer's marathon rash of family movies (are you looking, Bob Dole?), it has the distinct disadvantage of not having an animal star. Alongside Babe, the pig, and Willy, the whale, this poor ``Kid'' is sadly human.
Of course, Mark Twain did it with just a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Here, the earnest young Nicholas is a misfit Little League player who strikes out in the opening scene. Suddenly, an earthquake spirits him into the 12th century, and he's stuck with a baseball uniform in King Arthur's court.
At best, this is desperation plotting on the part of screenwriters Robert L. Leux and Michael Part. An earthquake, it seems, is the next best friend to amnesia for screenwriters without ideas.
It's the second movie trip to King Arthur's court this summer. ``First Knight'' dealt with the triangle between Queen Guinevere, Sir Lancelot and the likable-but-aging hubby king. This path has been trod so often that Hollywood probably should pave it.
This one has ``the kid'' showing the court what rock 'n' roll is like, via a digital stereo Walkman he brought along. He teaches the princess how to rollerblade and even ``invents'' the bicycle.
Arthur, who is aging and can't seem to always even remember the round table, is played by Joss Ackland, who usually plays villains. Merlin is played by Ron Moody (an Oscar nominee for playing Fagin in ``Oliver!''
Of course, there's a villain, but a pretty routine one. He's Lord Belasco, played by Art Malik (remember him in TV's ``Jewel in the Crown''?). He snarls a bit about how he wants to marry Arthur's eldest daughter and take over the kingdom, but he isn't really much of a threat.
the movie was filmed, apparently on the cheap, in Czechoslovakia.
It's fun, but in a mild, tepid way that is not likely to have a chance against the more inventive competition this summer. It has a TV-movie look and is likely to turn up on the Disney Channel.
Things are brighter in the opening moments of this double-bill. It's Mickey Mouse's first cartoon in 42 years! (The Disney folks count ``Mickey's Christmas Carol,'' the star's last outing, as a ``featurette'' rather than a mere cartoon).
In ``Runaway Brain,'' Mickey's brain is stolen by Dr. Frankenollie. Uniting the brain with the body of the monster, a monster-Mickey emerges. Frankenollie is named as a tribute to pioneer animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson, but the frenetic look is more reminiscent of the old Warner Bros. 'toons than of the gentle Disney-Mickey originals. Mickey is a lot more action-oriented than he was of old.
It's good to see the mouse working again, though. It had gotten to the point that he was little more than a corporate symbol.
Mickey has the voice of Wayne Allison, and Minnie Mouse (when ARE they going to get married?) is voiced by his wife, Russi Taylor. Minnie's prissy ways, in fact, steal the show. She's a delight when she mischievously picks out a bikini that Mickey might like.
``Runaway Brain'' is by far the better part of the program. ILLUSTRATION: WALT DISNEY PICTURES
Mickey and Minnie Mouse are back in ``Runaway Brain,'' Mickey's
first new short-form adventure in 42 years.
WALT DISNEY PICTURES
A modern Litle Leaguer (Thomas Ian Nicholas) goes back in time to
meet King Arthur (Joss Ackland).
``A Kid in King Arthur's Court''
Cast: Thomas Ian Nicholas, Joss Ackland, Art Malik, Ron Moody,
Director: Michael Gottleib
Screenplay: Robert L. Leux and Michael Part
Music: J.A.C. Redford
MPAA rating: PG (bloodless medieval battles)
Mal's rating: two stars
Cast: The voices of Wayne Allison, Russi Taylor
Director: Chris Bailey
MPAA Rating: G (cartoon violence, not typical for Mickey)
Mal's rating: three stars
Locations: Chesapeake Square and Greenbrier in Chesapeake; Janaf
and Main Gate in Norfolk; Columbus, Lynnhaven Mall and
Surf-N-Sand in Virginia