- Directed by Joe Lynch
- September 24, 2013 (ICon Festival) / January 21, 2014 (US)
After accidentally summoning a demon, a group of LARPers must send it back to hell.
From what I had seen and heard, Knights of Badassdom looked in my opinion to be absolutely hilarious. It should have been something very appealing to me. It had all the makings of something so stupid that it was funny. Maybe not a comedy classic but something that certainly should’ve been a cult classic. At worst I thought maybe I would not get it but would see how others could.
Despite some of the talent in this it just doesn’t quite reach any of its potential. Maybe the problem is the story focuses on the two most normal characters in the entire film rather than the weirder characters. You never get brought into the LARPing world but rather stand on the periphery with the regular people.
This just doesn’t get much into the odd or unique world that it is set within. I’m not saying LARPing should be portrayed as creepy but it’s definitely a different type of thing with a different type of people you will encounter. Delve into that. Focus on the unique characters you could meet.
Joe (Ryan Kwanten) has just gotten out of a relationship where his girlfriend wanted to take a break because he was really going nowhere in life. Gwen (Summer Glau) is the poorly defined cousin of a guy named Gunther (Brett Gipson/Tom Hopper-two actors for one part?!) who is way into LARPing to the point he’s kind of lost touch with reality yet. Nobody has him in therapy? No jokes about NEEDING therapy?
Joe and Gwen are so much less interesting than anybody else in the film. The only thing that makes Joe kind of interesting is that he is in a metal band. But he comes off as that suburban douche that is more poser than genuine. It might have given the character an interesting context if he was revealed to be a poser. As it is he just kinda chafes at what his friends are into begging the question how he became friends with these people he barely seems to share interests with.
Steve Zahn, Peter Dinklage, Danny Pudi, and Brian Posehn are all much stronger comedic performers than Glau or Kwanten yet spend too much of the story in the background with their far more interesting characters doing far too little. Pudi and Dinklage’s characters were perfect for humor here but are nothing more than extended cameos and die early on. Dinklage’s character of Hung is the only one that sees they are facing a demon but we the audience already knew that and the characters figure that out all on their own so his shroom powered ability is pointless. It is something that fails to inform the other characters.
It’s my understanding there was a lot of behind-the-scenes drama here. Scenes were removed, store lines were changed, and so forth. The result was not just an uneven film, but just a rather safe and borderline bland film. They don’t push the envelope and get raunchy or stupid or goofy. Just at best it gets slightly off kilter. It wastes a lot of very good talent and narrative potential. By trying to appeal to so many it appeals to very few.
For a horror comedy the script lacks humor and there’s really no punch to the kills. They’re not especially gory nor are they darkly funny. Again, this movie is safe. This is supposed to be a horror comedy so dive into dark humor. You can make anything funny given the scenario.
Visually the movie looked uneven. I know shots can occur months after the original filming but there is a quality change from moment to moment in scenes. And the focus fluctuates in the movie. Is this a story about a dude getting over his girlfriend or is it about a demon among LARPers?
Knights of Badassdom is a missed opportunity. What could’ve been something unique and intriguing got watered down. Prime performers were a little more than cameos. You can skip it. Kinda wish I had.