The strain on Twain falls mainly in the grain of "A Kid in King Arthur's Court." The author's classic "Connecticut Yankee"-- previously made as film vehicles for Will Rogers and Bing Crosby -- is grist for this run-of-the-mill modern retelling in which a schnooky kid is transported to days of yore to revivify the glory of Camelot. But the juvenilization of the hero turns into an ill-fitting concept that unbalances an already fragile fantasy.

The strain on Twain falls mainly in the grain of “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court.” The author’s classic “Connecticut Yankee”– previously made as film vehicles for Will Rogers and Bing Crosby — is grist for this run-of-the-mill modern retelling in which a schnooky kid is transported to days of yore to revivify the glory of Camelot. But the juvenilization of the hero turns into an ill-fitting concept that unbalances an already fragile fantasy. Reduced to its bare essentials, the yarn can only hope to connect with young children. Its theatrical tenure will be fleeting, with subsequent video prospects that are no more than modest. Thelow-budget outing might eke by as a company recouper.

Calvin Fuller (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a slightly awkward young teen who’s about to strike out at the plate and, once again, let down his Reseda Knights baseball teammates. He’s a good kid in need of a jolt of self-confidence.

Instead, he experiences an earthquake and, as others run for cover, the ground cracks open, swallows him whole and deposits the lad smack on the head of the Black Knight back in the 6th century.

Heralded as a savior by the doddering King Arthur (Joss Ackland), Calvin of Reseda finds a courtly seat for dinner and is ushered into the basic training course for aspiring knights.

His infantile knapsack of tricks — rock ‘n’ roll via a CD player, makeshift Rollerblades, the infinite versatility of a Swiss army knife — immediately puts him at

odds with the evil Lord Belasco (Art Malik), whose true goal is the crown, by hook or by crook.

The ragtag adaptation by Michael Part and Robert Levy is familiar fodder run through a blender too high and too fast. It turns out that the legendary, albeit deceased, Merlin actually was summoning another for the task thrust on Calvin’s narrow shoulders. But Calvin’s lack of guile prevails, he experiences his first bout of puppy love with the Princess Katey (Paloma Baeza) and ensures the tournament is kept on the up and up.

For those who like their homilies served up warm and wholesome, “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court” is an ideal snack. It definitely has the pulse of the 1950 s. In fact, one suspects that the screen Kid must have stopped

short on his way home, filmed this opus circa 1952 and continued on for delivery in present day.

“Kid” does get off to a rousing start, but that’s only because it’s preceded by the Mickey Mouse short “Runaway Brain.” The grudging fault one has with the first Mickey short in four decades is that it’s a mere eight minutes (with credits). The mix of screwball comedy and mad-scientist mayhem finds the gloved rodent a reluctant guinea pig for an experiment in order to win quick cash for a Hawaiian vacation with Minnie.

The premise affords a lot of possibilities, but essentially it’s kept to a one-joke frame. It does effortlessly show the animated wizardry alive at Disney, even if one senses this is a prelim for bigger, better stuff.

A Kid in King Arthur's Court

Production

A Buena Vista release in association with Trimark Pictures and Tapestry Films. Produced by Robert L. Levy, Peter Abrams, J.P. Guerin. Executive producer , Mark Amin. Co-producers, Andrew Hersh, Jonathon Komack Martin. Directed by Michael Gottlieb. Screenplay, Michael Part, Levy.

Crew

Camera (Technicolor), Elemer Ragalyi; editors, Michael Ripps, Anita Brandt-Burgoyne; music, J.A.C. Redford; production design, Laszlo Gardonyi; art direction, Beata Vaurinecz; costume design, Maria Hruby; sound (Dolby), Otto Olah; stunt coordinator, Bela Unger; assistant director, Gabor Gajdos; casting, Allison Gordon-Kohler (U.S.), John and Ros Hubbard (U.K.). Reviewed at Avco Cinema, L.A. , Aug. 5, 1995. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 89 min.

With

Calvin Fuller - Thomas Ian Nicholas
King Arthur - Joss Ackland
Lord Belasco - Art Malik
Princess Katey - Paloma Baeza
Princess Sarah - Kate Winslet
Merlin - Ron Moody
Master Kane - Daniel Craig
Ratan - David Tysall
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