Some comedies get bonus points for merely existing, for the simple fact that somebody thought the idea of a Wiccan, a witch running his own coven, being outed as his high school homecoming king and voted “most likely to succeed” would be funny.
No, he’s not the Goth Gone Wild/social misfit/”free thinker” and rebel we associate for this fringy and funny (Are we allowed to laugh at it?) belief’s adherents.
That’s “King Knight” in a nutshell, a movie in which this tattooed, garlanded witch married to a witch Jesus figure has his “walkabout” and faces his past and his moment of truth — at his high school reunion.
Scripted, acted and edited on that sliding “Napoleon Dynamite” deadpan scale, it’s filled with the ad hoc DIY Wiccanry rituals, practices and healing herbs and spells that Thorn (Matthew Gray Gubler of “Criminal Minds”) and his wife Willow (Angela Sarafyan of “Westworld”) instruct their coven of eight (including themselves) in.
It’s got a handful of laugh-out-loud gags, lines and reactions. But mostly, owing to the slack pace and thin collection of one-liners, it lets down a game cast playing a broad collection of eccentrics, true “believers” shaken by this revelation about their leader and prophet.
All isn’t well in the coven, with the gay tow truck driver and his partner postal worker and pretty much every other couple dressed in black (or white) having romantic troubles.
Thorn and his smarter, potion-and-herb prescribing (RN) wife, hear them out, offer counsel and “traditional” cures.
But as he impatiently reboots his emails, waiting for that next order for his line of homemade bird paths, Thorn is getting these persistent notes from another woman. Is he cheating? Considering it? He always deletes them.
Willow wonders what’s off about him. He keeps bringing up starting a family, and he’s acting a little shifty.
“Have you been taking those male enhancement pills? The ones from the gas station?”
No. Opening his email reveals all. She is shocked and appalled way beyond that “I don’t know who you are” thing. He was a poster boy for the kids who picked on her and pretty much everybody else in their coven in high school. His defense is Renaissance Faire/Wiccan, but weak.
“Beneath cloaks of Ralph Lauren, blood flows in their veins–just like the rest of us!”
As he faces shunning at home and in his coven, Thorn — his real name is “Thornton! It might as well be CHIP!” — must walk and wander, open his third eye and face his past.
The framing device is a sort of explainer, not quite a documentary but a tale narrated by Thorn, Willow and Thorn’s spirit guide, “the coolest wizard of them all,” Merlin (“Twin Peaks” and “How I Met Your Mother” alumnus Ray Wise).
Tarot cards introduce chapters — “The Lovers,” “The Hermit.”
And the most deadpan sequence of all is the presented-without-comment survey of “our traditions,” from the “Morning Cleanse” and “Beltane” to “May Baskets” and “Vow Renewals.”
Who knew Wiccans were so big on making happy couples?
A lot of the one-liners are of the crude “I’m glad to know I’m more than just a hole to you” variety, low hanging fruit of the stoner comedy school.
Is that the intent here? Sit around with Snoop, smoke and imbibe and giggle at the dorkiness and sheer inanity of these suburban “good witches” (no dark magic or “drinking babies’ blood”) and their cosplaying?
Maybe. Stone cold sober, “King Knight” is a bit of a sweet-spirited grind, funny intent delivering funny moments that are so scattered the picture never gets up a comic head of steam.
Rating: unrated, profanity, sexuality
Cast: Matthew Gray Gubler, Angela Sarafyan, Andy Milonakis, Kate Comer, Emily Chang and Ray Wise.
Credits: Scripted and directed by Richard Bates Jr. An XYZ release.
Running time: 1:21