As bad as it is, "Black Knight" could have been worse. A whole lot worse.
This severely painful comedy the umpteenth remake or revision of Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" was originally conceived as a star vehicle for motor-mouth Chris Tucker, who definitely ranks right up there on the scale of cinematic irritants.
Which isn't to say that Martin Lawrence, the person who wound up taking the part by default, isn't irritating. In fact, his constant mugging and tiresome shtick here is more painful to sit through than his performance in "Big Momma's House," which is really saying something.
But at least it can be said that Lawrence's performance here isn't any worse than the material, which might not have been true if Tucker had played the title role.
Lawrence stars as Jamal Walker, an employee at the Medieval World amusement park. Jamal's job performance is less than inspired, and he's counting on being able to jump ship to a competing park when it opens.
However, his plans change when, while cleaning the park's moat, Jamal spies what looks like a valuable gold necklace. When he tries to grab it, he finds himself sucked into the past to 14th century England, to be precise.
Fortunately, he's mistaken for a messenger from Normandy and is treated royally by King Leo (Kevin Conway). But Jamal does feel a pang of guilt when he sees how the king treats his subjects, especially beautiful revolutionary Victoria (British television actress Marsha Thomason).
You'd be right in thinking this leads to a lame uprising storyline, with Jamal helping lead the charge. But you may be surprised at how violent things get.
It doesn't help that director Gil Junger ("10 Things I Hate About You") can't find a consistent tone, and that he's saddled with a patchwork script.
Still, it's Lawrence's picture, and he's ultimately the lead weight that drags it down. Also, British actor Tom Wilkinson looks embarrassed to be here as well he should in the unrewarding role of a disgraced knight.
"Black Knight" is rated PG-13 for occasional use of strong profanity, crude gags referring to sexual and bodily functions, medieval violence, use of racial epithets and brief gore. Running time: 93 minutes.