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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

King Ralph (1991)
(2016 Reissue)


Starring: John Goodman, Peter O'Toole, John Hurt, Camille Coduri, Richard Griffiths, Leslie Phillips and Joely Richardson
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £19.99

Certificate: PG
Release Date: 06 June 2016

When a freak accident wipes out the entire Royal Family, a surviving heir to the throne must be found, and turns up in the unlikely form of Vegas singer Ralph Jones. But educating him in the way of his royal duties is not going to be an easy task...

King Ralph is a comedy film that takes elements of My Fair Lady and puts a comedic spin on them. Ralph Jones (John Goodman in his first leading Hollywood role after the success of TV show Roseanne) is an American Vegas singer who is also, by a quirk of birth, also a very distant relation to England's Royal Family. When they are all killed in an accident the powers that be offer Ralph the position of King of England and all the perks that go with it. As he's almost bankrupt, the decision is not a hard one to make.

It falls to Sir Cedric Charles Willingham (Peter O'Toole) to educate Ralph in the finery of British etiquette and how not to behave like an uncouth commoner. Of course, the comedy comes from the fact that Ralph has trouble adjust to his new role.

In places the movie borders on being racist (King Mulambon of Zambezi is not so good at darts, but a whiz at spear throwing) but it's all done tongue in cheek and the Brits and the Americans poke fun at themselves more than at other nations. In fact, Rudolph Walker, who plays King Mulambon, originally starred in the British, now regarded as racist, sit-com Love They Neighbour. In addition, his co-star in Love They Neighbour, Jack Smethurst, also makes an appearance playing Miranda's father).

I originally saw the movie on its theatrical release as I was studying at Sheffield Hallam University in 1991 and parts of the movie were filmed "up in't grim North". I really didn't enjoy the film then, and my mind has not changed a bit since. While all the actors turn in impressive performances, there just isn't enough in the story to keep the joke going for the duration.

The film also attracted a lot of incredible talent (Peter O'Toole, John Hurt, Richard Griffiths, Leslie Phillips, Joely Richardson and Julian Glover) In fact the only bad performance comes from Camille Coduri (playing pretty much the same air-headed character she played in Nuns on the Run).

For extras all we get is the film's trailer (1 min, 33 sec).


Darren Rea

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