Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is an ordinary 12-year-old boy, if a bit earnest and solemn for his years. He seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders, protecting his best buddy Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) when they are picked on by bullies (Tom Taylor and Rhianna Dorris), and watching out for his single mum while he muses about his long-gone father. So one night when he is chased into a construction site by the bullies, he stumbles upon a sight that is so iconic that it is admittedly laughable: a sword emerging from a stone. What’s a kid to do other than pull it out and take it home?
Alex and Bedders know that the chances of the sword actually being King Arthur’s mythological Excalibur are completely ridiculous. Why would a modern kid be the chosen king? Well, the evil Morgana hase been apparently been feeding on all the negative vibes in the world today, and is planning to destroy the world as we know it. Only the Knights of the Round Table will be able to stop her. This is all explained to Alex by a teenage boy (Angus Imrie) who happens to be able to turn into an owl in an explosion of feathers and fluster. Yes, he happens to be Merlin (in young form), and is here to help.
The Kid Who Would Be King is a terrifically entertaining modernization of the King Arthur tale. It both dutifully follows the well-trodden path of the classic story, while cheekily making fun of it. Alex and his “knights” may be more familiar with the hero’s path of Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker, but his journey with Excalibur is really the same journey (as Joseph Campbell would tell you). Though they are facing challenges right out of a storybook, these days instead there just might be a bus ride involved or tourists to hamper one’s quest.
Not only did I greatly enjoy The Kid Who Would Be King, but my 10-year-old companion did as well. He was quite convinced that spells that Merlin conjured with his hands were most definitely “real magic” (my buddy was practicing after the movie), but he proclaimed the movie to be awesome. I must say, with Patrick Stewart showing up as old Merlin, how could it not be?