The Austin Chronicle

All's Faire in Love

Rated PG-13, 104 min. Directed by Scott Marshall. Starring Christina Ricci, Owen Benjamin, Ann-Margret, Matthew Lillard, Cedric the Entertainer, Chris Wylde, Louise Griffiths, Bill Engvall.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 28, 2011

Oh, so very bad that it doth make one squeal in heretofore unknown agony. This atrocious, inept, and painfully unfunny comedy manages to sully the reputations of renaissance festivals the world over, not to mention the current state of Christina Ricci's career. All's Faire in Love is a far cry from Ricci's turn in Buffalo ’66 and light years away from her mesmerizingly sultry performance in Craig Brewer's twisted Black Snake Moan. Even Casper outshines everything about this film, which, to be fair, has been sitting on a shelf for the better part of the last four years. Why it's suddenly merited a theatrical release is baffling.

Filmed in and around Flint, Mich. (at an actual renaissance fair, the better to save on wardrobe, one assumes), Ricci wildly overplays as Kate, an aspiring actress who jumps the corporate ship in favor of hamming it up at RenFest. It's there, during a performance of Romeo and Juliet that would get any serious (or for that matter farce-inclined) Shakespearean thesp justly murdered on the spot, that she meets cute with Will (Benjamin), a collegiate star athlete banished to this Bill Engvall-strewn netherworld by his English professor (Cedric the Entertainer) as punishment for having ne'er shown up for class.

There's punishment and then there's prolonged, squirm-inducing psychological torture, which is a more accurate description of All's Faire in Love, a romantic comedy that will only be "romantic" to audience members under the age of 14 and utterly devoid of genuine yuks and the necessary rom-com spark. The buffoonish Benjamin, horrifically miscast and looking as though he's been up carousing all night, is hardly anyone's idea of a keeper and Lillard, doing his own spiraling career no favors at all, is simply irritating. There's more than one pseudo-Shakespearean misfire out this week in addition to Anonymous; avoid this one like the pox. Better yet, go rent George A. Romero's criminally underrated and terminally underseen cult classic Knightriders.

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