Too bad, because it starts quite well, as ambition-less auto mechanic Joe (Ryan Kwanten, TV’s True Blood) is dumped by his too-good-for-him girlfriend. To pick Joe up out of his doldrums, his housemates and best buds (played by Dallas Buyers Club‘s Steve Zahn and Peter Dinklage of TV’s Game of Thrones) get him high and then get him armored up against his will for a distracting weekend of LARP.
What they don’t realize is, thanks to a 16th-century book lost for generations (think Necronomicon), real, live demons are summoned, thereby shaving the “RP” off the LARP. Surprisingly, that’s also when Knights of Badassdom begins to grow tiresome from repetition, although points are awarded to director Joe Lynch (Chillerama) for using practical monsters, not computer-generated ones.
Knights of Badassdom tweaks the LARP subculture while also aiming the movie directly at its practitioners. (The casting of Dinklage alone seems like an in-joke for Thrones fanatics. I only wish he had more to do.) In doing so, Lynch gets another of Zahn’s stock-in-trade goofus performances, but the funniest bits come from Jimmi Simpson (Netflix’s House of Cards) as a gamemaster who doeth taketh the game too seriously.
Knights of Badassdom doesn’t fall prey to the same; it brims over with spirit and heart … and the same joke told for roughly 45 minutes. That leaves it at half a good movie. —Rod Lott
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