Making the Grades
So one day you're minding your own business playing little league ball, when suddenly an earthquake strikes and you find yourself plummeting down an endless hole and poof! You are sent back a few hundred years to the middle ages. That's exactly what happens to Calvin Fuller (Thomas Nicholas), the 14-year-old featured in this story that is loosely based on Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court.
Soon after arriving in Camelot, Fuller is recruited into knight school where he practices fighting his enemy while riding a wooden horse. His first try at lifting a royal hatchet sends him spinning with the comment, "They sure look a lot lighter on TV." But with the magic of Merlin and the sword Excaliber, Fuller is ready to meet his challenge, which is to rid the kingdom of the enemy within -- Lord Belasco, the right hand man to the aging Arthur.
In showing this movie to the family, violence may be your greatest concern, although compared to the real middle ages, this is quite tame. No one appears dead after a jousting match, and I don't recall seeing a drop of blood. This makes it easier to show this movie to children, but parents may want to question younger family members to see if they understand just how serious a jousting match was. Other scenes involve the usual slapstick fare found in Disney movies, along with the infamous kick to the crotch. The language is limited to a few mild curses.
Of course, a Disney movie demands a happy ending, and you get one here, but don't expect much more in the way of a deep thought provoking experience. This film follows decades of Disney fluff stories that began with spunky Volkswagens and lawyers that became shaggy dogs. It doesn't quite live up to those classic standards, but it still provides most family members with a fun story and allows each of us to dream about being a knight for a day.