Lead actress Julia Dietze is the sole reason to check out medieval laffer “1½ Knights: In Search of the Ravishing Princess Herzelinde,” the fourth helming stint by German multihyphenate Til Schweiger. As the feisty royal babe, Dietze, until now mostly seen on TV, shows a freshness and likable comic smarts that need only the right role to launch her as a young comedienne on the heels of Schweiger discovery Nora Tschirner (“Rabbit Without Ears”). Overlong misfire has taken a respectable but un- “Rabbit”-like $14 million in 11 weeks.
Though “Rabbit” and “Barefoot” confirmed Schweiger’s talent for romantic comedies, “Knights” shows he’s not at home with sendups; he has no feel for the necessary comic rhythms. Scrawny plot finds brave but terminally shy knight Lanze (Schweiger, dull) and Turkish wannabe knight Erdal (spoofmeister Rick Kavanian, with a funny accent) rescuing Herzelinde (Dietze), kidnapped by the evil Black Knight (Tobias Moretti). It’s mainly an excuse for guest-star cameos (Hannelore Elsner, Anna Maria Muehe), jokes about codpieces and chastity belts, and modern references (a medieval disco, doner kebabs). Realistic production design is flavorsome but gets in the way of an already lackluster script.