William Thatcher (Heath Ledger) is a peasant serving as an apprentice to Sir Ector. Unfortunately, Sir Ector dies before he is able to finish the tournament he is competing in, which means no prize and no money for food. William decides that the best thing to do is for him to pretend to be Sir Ector and joust in his place.
After he manages to successfully pull off a win (and keep his identity a secret), he convinces the two other men that served Sir Ector, Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk), that they should find a way for him to continue competing in tournaments. You see, the problem is, you have to be of noble birth to compete, of which William is not. They start training William to get him ready to compete and they also make him look more presentable so people will believe he comes from nobility. Now they have to figure out how to handle the nobility part.
As luck would have it they come across Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany) on their way to the next tournament. I just have to say Paul gets one of the best movie entrances ever. Anyway, Geoff tells them they need a “Patents of Nobility” in order to enter the competition. It just so happens that he is extremely good at forging them. Now William is known as Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein. He also makes Geoff his Herald, which means that he will announce him at tournaments.
What would a story about a knight be without a girl for him to fall for? As they enter the town William sees Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon) and is immediately attracted to her. It’s never that simple though is it? There is another man competing for her affections, Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell). The Count takes an immediate dislike to William. His plan is to not only humiliate him in front of Jocelyn, but to also beat him in the jousting competition.
This is a fun movie, full of great actors and an interesting twist on the typical knight story. I love how modern music was used, even though the movie is set during the Renaissance period. It really livens up the movie. Who can’t love “We Will Rock You” by Queen being used during the opening tournament. I particularly like how a period song switched into “Golden Years” by David Bowie during the dance scene with the dancing also switching from an older style to a modern one.
Heath’s performance is so natural and he makes it look so effortless. He is utterly charming and completely believable as the hero. Heath also has wonderful chemistry with all of his co-stars. Once again I am deeply saddened that he is no longer with us.
Paul, Mark and Alan are also wonderful. Their character portrayals are spot on and their interaction with each other is so fun to watch. I especially enjoyed watching Paul and Alan together. Their characters were so antagonistic towards each other (in a fun way) and very entertaining.
Some of my favorite quotes:
Wat – “If you wasn’t dead. I would kill ya.”
Geoff – “It’s more a sort of involuntary vow of poverty, really.”
Will – “Did she see me take the hit?”
Geoff – “Yes, she saw you take the hit.”
Will – “Well, was she concerned?”
Geoff – “It was dreadful, her eyes welled up. It was just awful.”
Geoff – “And Wat doesn’t lead, he follows like a girl.”
Geoff – “You can hit me all day ’cause you punch like a what?”
Roland – “A girl.”
Geoff – “Oh, my giddy aunt.”
Wat – “Say somethin’ about her breasts.”
Roland – “Yeah, you miss her breasts.”
Will – “Her breasts?”
Geoff – “Yes, you could but I … uh … would tend to look above her breasts William.”
Will – “I miss her throat?”
Geoff – “God, I’m good.”
Wat – “I’m going to lose everything.”
Geoff – “That’s why it’s called gambling.”
Wat – “I don’t understand women.”
Geoff – “Nor do I, but they understand us. Maybe not you.”
Following is additional information about the movie that contains spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled don’t read any further.
You’ve gotta love Geoff calmly walking down the road completely naked and the guy’s reaction when they see him. Then there are introductions, negotiations and the acceptance of a new team member. It’s a great scene and Paul is absolutely fabulous during it.
The scene where Geoff is teaching Will how to dance is wonderful (Wat is filling in for the girl’s part). It’s funny, because they just can’t seem to do it right and Geoff can’t seem to keep himself from tormenting Wat. Things go much better once they convince Kate to take over teaching duties.
The ending was very heartwarming. William being knighted and then getting to finish the tournament. Being able to compete under his own name and then winning the joust (his father was even able to be there for it). Basically, the hero triumphs and gets the girl. Sometimes that’s just what you need from a movie, a sweet, happy ending.