The Kid who would be King Parent Guide
The film's many positive messages are some compensation for laughably bad dialogue, flat acting, and an implausible plot.
Parent Movie Review
“This land is divided, lost, and leaderless. Men’s hearts are hollow.” So says the wizard Merlin (Angus Imrie) on his return to modern day Britain. His solution to the island’s woes lies in the most unlikely place – 12 year old Alexander Elliott, played with wide eyed innocence by Louis Ashbourne Serkis.
Alexander is an unexpected hero. He and his best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) are favorite targets of the school bullies, Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris). On the run from his tormentors one night, Alex stumbles into a construction site where he pulls a sword from a stone. You guessed it…this is no ordinary sword. It’s Excalibur, sword of the fabled King Arthur, and Alex is fated to save Britain from Arthur’s evil half-sister, the sorceress Morgana. Trapped in a fiery underground cavern by Merlin centuries ago, her power grows as Britons become ever more divided. When a solar eclipse comes in four days, Morgana plans to emerge from her prison, kill Alex, seize the sword, and enslave the people of Britain.
In the meantime, Alex is being pursued by fiery undead knights, learning how to fight, and trying to create a unified opposition to face the forces of evil. His heroic journey, although neither original nor plausible, does provide young viewers with parent-approved positive messages. Alex decides that he needs to put past animosity aside and work with Lance and Kaye. As he tells them, “King Arthur made his enemies his allies. Together they defeated an enemy greater than all of them.” He knows he needs the strength of his former tormentors and is willing to let bygones be bygones so they can defeat their mutual enemy. The process is not easy and takes determination on Alex’s part and a willingness to acknowledge past poor behavior on the parts of Vance and Kaye. Other positive messages in the film center on its interpretation of the chivalric code – one that promotes loyalty, honesty, perseverance, and honoring loved ones. The messages are presented with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but parents are unlikely to object.
Parents will also be pleased at the relatively minor content issues in The Kid Who Would Be King. The only area of concern is violence, but given the movie’s PG rating, adults are correct in assuming that the violence is heavily sanitized. There are several scenes of undead flaming warriors on horseback emerging from the ground and lots of associated fantasy violence. More flames come as Morgana transforms into a creature that looks like a cross between a dragon and a skeletal starvation victim. But since she breathes fire, I assume she is a dragon. Given the frightening images, moments of peril for the child characters, and multiple scenes of fantasy violence, this movie is clearly not suited for young children or for any kids who are easily frightened.
The Kid Who Would Be King isn’t suited for adults either. The laughable dialogue, flat acting, and implausible plot are likely to bore or frustrate mature viewers. I rolled my eyes so often I was starting to wonder about ocular muscle fatigue. The only thing that really held my interest was speculating about how Sir Patrick Stewart (who plays the older Merlin) wound up appearing in a film so far beneath his acting ability. These issues aside, the movie will provide older elementary school aged children with two hours of adventure studded with positive messages. Parents are unlikely to complain too loudly about that.Directed by Joe Cornish. Starring Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Rebecca Ferguson, and Patrick Stewart. Running time: 120 minutes. Theatrical release January 25, 2019. Updated January 25, 2019
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The Kid who would be King
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Kid who would be King rated PG? The Kid who would be King is rated PG by the MPAA for fantasy action violence, scary images, thematic elements including some bullying, and language
Violence: There are several scenes of bullying and fighting between schoolchildren. Punches are thrown in one scene and a child has bloody marks on his face. On another scene, a child flees from bullies and falls over 10 feet, becoming temporarily knocked out when he lands. A child threatens another child on more than one occasion. Children throw food and juice containers at another child in the cafeteria. There are animated scenes of warfare from the Arthurian period. Undead flaming warriors emerge from the ground on multiple occasions and are fought off by children using cars, swords, ropes, barrels of flammable liquid, and whatever else they can think of. On one occasion an undead warrior attacks a child in his own bedroom. A wizard shows children a vision of England burning and enslaved. Children practice sword fighting with trees that have come to life. Trees attack children and trap them in their roots. Two characters fight each other with swords. A sorceress transforms into a fire-breathing dragon-type creature. A child stabs the dragon. The undead attack a school and fight with the students. The dragon/sorceress breathes fire at the students. A child cuts off the dragon’s head.
Sexual Content: A wizard is shown naked but fog hides all but his lower legs, head, and shoulders.
Profanity: I counted six terms of deity and one minor swear word and minor name-calling.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted. There is a mention of a parent’s alcoholism.
Page last updated January 25, 2019
The Kid who would be King Parents' Guide
Alex and Bedders are bullied at the beginning of the film but they refuse to tell the school administrators what’s going on. What do you think kids should do when they are being bullied? What should you do when you see someone being victimized?
Read books about The Kid who would be King
Le Morte D’Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table written by Thomas Malory in the 15th century is the first comprehensive collection of tales about the legendary king. Adaptations which modernize the language are widely available.
Modern readers can look for T.H. White’s The Once and Future King which is a masterful retelling of the Arthurian saga and is the basis for many of the film adaptations. White also wrote The Sword in the Stone which focuses on Arthur’s youth and education under Merlin.
Howard Pyle’s The Story of King Arthur and His Knights is a lyrical retelling of the legend, with the violence sanitized for younger readers.
Rosemary Sutcliff’s Sword at Sunset is a hard-edged retelling of the story of Artos the Bear, warrior king of the 5th century, who might have been the inspiration for the mythical King Arthur.
Young readers who want more of King Arthur will enjoy Sarah Courtauld’s Illustrated Tales of King Arthur. Legends are always more fun when they are lavishly illustrated.
The world of Camelot has inspired writers for centuries. J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired by old English legends as he created Middle Earth. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series draws heavily upon Arthurian myths and symbols in its battle between Light and Dark. Fans of Cooper’s series will also enjoy the work of Lloyd Alexander whose The Chronicles of Prydain are inspired by Welsh mythology.
Related home video titles:
The best known kid friendly version of the Arthurian tale is Disney’s animated The Sword in the Stone.Another story about a boy surprised by an unexpected destiny is told in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Older viewers looking for a slightly more realistic take on Arthurian mythology can try King Arthur, Clive Owen stars as the legendary king battling the Saxons. A particularly gory retelling of the Arthurian tale is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, starring Charlie Hunnam. Camelot also revisits the tale, with emphasis on the tragic love triangle. First Knight also focuses on the human relationships in King Arthur’s court.
A humorous twist on the period is found in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Full of laughs, this cult favorite is suitable for teens and adults.