King Ralph (1991)


Hold on a second…  King Ralph?  Who the hell even remembers that there’s a movie called King Ralph?  You’re telling me I haven’t even written a review for World War Z or Grand Theft Auto V yet… but I’m churning out 600 words on fucking King Ralph?  Why the hell would anyone be reviewing King Ralph in the year 2013?  

Well, if you’re a fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart you might be able to hazard a guess.  Last night (Oct. 5, 2013) on the show, John Goodman was the guest.  Stewart showered him with praise saying “You never suck in anything… In everything you do, it’s awesome.


So, yeah.  I pretty much watched King Ralph again out of spite.

Written and Directed by David S. Ward (Major League 1 & 2, The Program), King Ralph features then-rocketing-star John Goodman as Ralph Jones, an American schmo who ends up being next in line to be King of England after a terrible photography accident leaves the entire Royal Family dead.  The movie also features Peter O’Toole as his guiding hand in royal matters, and John Hurt as a rival lord scheming to have Ralph removed from the throne, so that he may seize the position for himself.  Throw in a stripper love interest, and you have basically one of the most predictable and uninteresting comedies ever made.

The movie is terrible.  It’s the definition of bland, safe, whitewashed 90s “entertainment”.  100% of the humour is supposed to be found in the hilarity of Goodman being a fish out of water in that crazy, crazy high class world of England.  I mean, bangers & mash?  Spotted dick?  Fox hunting?  This stuff writes itself!

British sports are soooo weird.  I got two words for you, England:  'Murica.

British sports are soooo weird. I got two words for you, England: ‘Murica.

Here’s the kicker though:  Goodman is awesome in it.  I mean, it’s not a big stretch… he’s just playing “Dan Conner at Buckingham Palace”, but he is definitely giving it his all.  And it’s not just him.  All the principle characters give this shit-pile their best shot.  It’s the material itself that falls flat.  The fish-out-of-water story is fresh from whatever cannery 80s & 90s script-writers packaged this shit up by the gross back then.  Maybe if some chances had been taken, instead of relying on cultural stereotypes that were tired 22 years ago, this could have worked with the talent that was backing it.

Then again... This is the portrayal of the King of Zambia... so maybe not.

Then again… This is the portrayal of the King of Zambia… so maybe not.

I was really surprised to learn that the writer and director, David S. Ward, was behind 3 of my favourite films to come out of that late 80s/early 90s shitstorm of cinematic “comedy”, not to mention having written The Sting, one of the most highly regarded dramadies of the 70s.  It really makes me wonder why this ended up so bland.  I know Ward is capable of making me laugh.  I know Goodman is very capable of it.  This movie just… isn’t.

Anyway, it boils down to this:  I watched this movie for a second time (I watched it when it was first released on VHS many moons ago) to prove Stew-Beef wrong, and the only person who I hurt was myself.  It doesn’t pay to be spiteful kids.


5 comments on “King Ralph (1991)

  1. I watched this not too long ago, and I actually found myself enjoying it. But I’ll agree that it’s primarily due to John Goodman, who really does seem to be awesome in anything he’s in — even if the thing itself isn’t always awesome.

    • You’ve gotta respect that “It’s a job, and I’m getting paid to do it as well as I can” attitude that some of these great actors who take gawdawful roles seem to have.

  2. I actually saw this movie in the theater and 2 or 3 times since. AS terrible as the movie is, casting JG in it was pure genius because he does do an amazing job here.

    Great review.

    • Thanks!

      I didn’t see this in theatres… I would have just narrowly missed it. I started watching pretty much any/every movie that even remotely interested me, starting just before Christmas ’91. About 10 months after this was released.

      I guess Goodman really is that great that he raises the bar for anything he appears in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s