King Ralph

John Goodman is a sleazy Las Vegas piano player who winds up as king of England, in a rather Neanderthal comedy written and directed by David S. Ward, adapted from Emlyn Williams’s novel Headlong, that relies more on easy jokes (including a racist episode involving a spear-chucking African king) than anything resembling inventiveness. A very tired looking Peter O’Toole stars as the new king’s personal secretary, and an equally uncomfortable John Hurt plays a lord who plots his downfall; Camille Coduri plays the commoner and would-be stripper whom the hero falls in love with. I certainly have no objections to low comedy, and Goodman is game enough, but the script and direction are so witless that by the end I was longing for Rodney Dangerfield and Jim Belushi. (JR)

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