(Knights of Badassdom screens tonight and tomorrow night at SIFF at the Uptown at 11 pm. It will also be available on demand and through digital services starting on February 11th.)
Let's be clear about this up front. The best thing about this movie is Peter Dinklage. He plays a drug-addled LARPer who seems to use live action role playing as set dressing for his psychedelic exploits, and all the best lines in Knights of Badassdom belong to him. Unfortunately, he's not in very much of the movie. The distant second-best thing about this movie is Steve Zahn as Eric, an independently wealthy nerd who lives out his Dungeons & Dragons fantasies by wearing wizard robes and chanting from old, cool-looking books he buys on eBay. Unfortunately, his character has no arc at all, and so he just hangs around in the background, being moderately funny Steve Zahn for no real reason.
Pretty much everything else in Knights of Badassdom is just plain bad. As the main character, Ryan Kwanten gives a performance that is as exciting, and durable, as a piece of IKEA furniture. Summer Glau does no better as the love interest. Danny Pudi gives such an awful supporting performance that I now have to wonder if the Community star is just a Bronson Pinchot for the 21st century. The plot, about a bunch of LARPers who accidentally summon a demon to the real world, is impossibly generic. The special effects are about as shitty as you can get before leaning into Power Rangers territory. The dialogue is flaccid. All the humor hinges on these people dressed up like shoddy medieval characters saying anachronistic things. The joke wears thin about twenty minutes in.
None of this should be surprising. Badassdom was filmed in 2010, and it's been plagued by production troubles ever since. Has there ever been a good movie that's taken four years from filming to release? But to blame the movie's problems on its muddled production process feels too easy. It just doesn't have anything going for it, from the script on up. Sometimes there's nothing more to it than the simple fact that some movies are losers. Knights of Badassdom is a loser. It's not maddeningly bad. It's not good-bad. It's just boring and shoddy and not funny at all.