Film Review: All's Faire in Love

A prime contender for 2011’s biggest cinematic embarrassment.

All’s Faire in Love seriously begs the question: “What in hell were they thinking?” Renaissance fairs, with their ineffable aura of cheesy earnestness and questionable historical accuracy, have become a punch line in this snarky era, but to make a whole film about one? This comedy has been on the shelf since 2009, and one can certainly see why. Everyone involved strains mightily to give this clueless mess something of a Christopher Guest satirical fillip, but, totally lacking in wit or style, it remains one large, steaming cowpat on the screen.

The idiotic plot centers around Kate (Christina Ricci), a wannabe actress who blows her corporate job interview in order to get her dream three weeks of employment as a servile wench at a local faire. There, she meets any number of wackadoo characters, including Will (Owen Benjamin), a college football star who has been sentenced to being the lowly fetch-boy by his faire-loving English teacher (Cedric the Entertainer, joke casting) for continually missing class. They fall in ye auld love while competing against the noble faire inhabitants for their chance to switch places with the aristocracy next season.

Co-writer Scott Marshall also directed and shows a very heavy, desperate hand in such moments as when Kate asks if there are any hot guys around and a fire-eater suddenly does his stuff in the background. He also gives her a dog to carry around whose only purpose is to be imperiled at the hapless climax. Poor Ricci does what she can in the depths of this indie hell, but the pushed-up bosomed Elizabethan (not Renaissance) costumes don’t suit her and look just weird, and when called upon to play some scenes as Juliet, she proves she is no Shakespearean with that piping little voice and Am-urri-can inflections.

Benjamin fares better, although he’s somewhat mature-looking to be convincingly college age, and has a lightly winning way with his oh-so-predictable dumb-jock lines. However, nothing can save him from the horror of having to sing a song to woo Ricci with the lyrics “When you laugh/You’re a koala and I’m a giraffe/And this giraffe wants to do it with you.” Matthew Lillard plays his faire buddy and must have been dearly wishing he was doing another Scooby-Doo, especially in a scene that calls for him to be urinated upon by a goat to ward off an evil curse. The over-the-top pair of Chris Wylde and David Sheridan try to out-act each other, as an obnoxious Prince and an even more obnoxious Jester with a puppet named “Horny the Unicorn.”

Ann-Margret hits rock-bottom career-wise here, playing the faire’s queen with a shaky Brit accent and crown surmounting her trademark unattractive Vegas-y whoosh of red hair which she seems as loath to relinquish as Crawford did those scary eyebrows of hers. This sodden enterprise comes to its flailing conclusion when Cedric the Entertainer breaks character as Prof. Shockworthy and dances a pop-and-lock while wearing armor to C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat.” Fun, right?