Christina Ricci has always had a fondness for offbeat, unpredictable films.
I mean, really. Pumpkin,
It shouldn't come as a surprise that pre-Pan Am
Ricci would align herself with a project like All's Faire in Love,
yet the latest in a long line of fish-out-of-water love stories to take place in an unusual setting. This time around, the setting is a Renaissance Faire where a whole slew of society's outcasts go hoping that, at least in this imaginary world, they won't be outcasts anymore.
Our two leads, Kate (Christina Ricci) and Will (Owen Benjamin), end up at the RenFaire for entirely different reasons. Kate is a free-spirited artistic type who suddenly abandons a "big money" opportunity in favor of three weeks as an actress alongside her galpal, Jo (Louise Griffiths). Will, on the other hand, is sentenced to RenFaire by his Lit professor (Cedric The Entertainer, mostly wasted here), who has tired of the star quarterback's excuses for not showing up in class.
Unless you've never been to a movie in your entire life, you already know that Kate and Will are destined for couplehood while simultaneously "rescuing" RenFaire from its class warfare and social injustices.
You do realize that, right?
All's Faire in Love
is actually a 2009 indie flick that hit the festival circuit for awhile, but is likely being brought back by a semi-wise marketing distrib hoping to sponge a few more bucks out of Ricci's sudden rise in popularity thanks to her leading role in the television series Pan Am.
One of the best things about All's Faire in Love
is Ann-Margret, who hasn't had a decent role in years but who takes quite the shine to her appearance here as the Faire's demanding and commanding Queen. Ann-Margret still looks amazing, and her performance here is energetic and inspired ... it's just a shame that the script couldn't follow suit. Co-penned by director Scott Marshall and Jeffrey Ray Wine, All's Faire in Love
takes a broadly comical topic filled with potentially hilarious stereotypes that go nowhere.
It would be nice if one could say that, much like film's centered around sci-fi conventions, this is a film with cult potential but, in all honesty, even those who attend Renaissance Faires are likely to consider the material tired and unimaginative.
Ricci is certainly game for the project, injecting her usual perkiness and wide-eyed innocence into the film with such enthusiasm that you can't help but think she sees the material's real potential. Owen Benjamin, an ex of Ricci's, never convinces as a slacker quarterback whose effort here is so minimal it's impossible to even picture him as a star quarterback.
In addition to Ann-Margret's solid supporting turn, Matthew Lillard has a tremendous time as Rusty Crockett, a peasant amidst the Faire who aspires to winning the season's big competition that will determine the next season's noble class. Chris Wylde is perfectly devilish as Prince Rank, a noble who has no trouble flaunting his status. Dave Sheridan shares the offbeat vibe with Wylde and is freakishly funny as a court jester with a unicorn sock puppet named "Horny."
All's Faire in Love
isn't particularly awful. Rather, it's simply a waste of a willing and ready cast to create a film that actually has a good time. With the exception of Owen Benjamin and the coasting Cedric the Entertainer, everyone here seems to be having a good time and the underwhelming comedy is made nearly passable by the film's good spirit and offbeat setting.
Alas, dear readers, a good nature can't compensate for humor that falls flat and an uneven chemistry between Ricci and Benjamin that may very well explain why Benjamin's now an ex. If you really need your Christina Ricci fix, just wait for the next episode of Pan Am. All's Faire in Love
never takes flight.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic