A Knight's Tale

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
A Knight's Tale Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Edgy medieval tale with rock music, some cursing.
  • PG-13
  • 2001
  • 132 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 24 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

William defies the class system to compete as a knight. Characters pursue their ambitions and don't let anything stand in their way. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

While born a peasant, William remains steadfast in his desire to be a knight and refuses to listen to those who tell him that he cannot be a knight due to his station in life. 

Violence

Lots of jousting and sword-fighting violence, not too graphic, some blood. In one scene, a man is shown hanging dead from the gallows. 

Sex

Male nudity: buttocks. A male character who joins the protagonist's entourage is completely naked as he walks through a field (buttocks shown). Some innuendo: talk of female breasts and of "uncross(ing) her legs." 

Language

Frequent use of the word "s--te," the UK pronunciation of "s--t." "Son of a bitch." "Bastard." "Hell." The word "fonging" is repeatedly used by one of the characters -- in some contexts it means beating someone up, and in others, it seems to mean "f---ing." Some sexual insinuation: talk of breasts, of "uncross(ing) her legs." 

Consumerism

The blacksmith adds a personal touch to the lead character's armor: She adds two "swooshes" that look a lot like the Nike logo. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking in taverns, boisterous behavior. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Knight's Tale is a 2001 medieval movie in which a man born a peasant sets out to prove that he's worthy of being a knight. There's frequent jousting and sword-fighting violence: Characters fall off horses, sustain severe bruises, some blood. A man is shown hanging dead from the gallows. As the quest begins, a naked man suddenly appears and walks past the knight-to-be's entourage; brief male nudity (buttocks). There's some sexual innuendo: talk of breasts, a mention of having "uncrossed her legs." Some language occurs: frequent use of "s--te," the UK variant of "s--t." The word "fonging," used frequently by one of the characters, can sometimes mean beating someone up, but in other contexts it has an "F" word connotation. There are some modern nods throughout the movie, primarily in the form of classic rock songs like "We Will Rock You" and "The Boys Are Back in Town," but this nod to modernity takes a turn into product placement territory when the blacksmith of the group, upon giving the knight his newest armor, distinguishes it by carving swooshes that look like the Nike symbol. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRyDel81 November 28, 2018

A fun time for the whole family!

This movie is clearly a work of historical fiction - heavy on the fiction. It does not try to be more than that. It is a fun tale of a peasant squire who sees a... Continue reading
Parent Written byTawnda A. January 22, 2018

Proceed with Caution

We are a homeschooling family, and thus have been studying knights/jousting/feudal system/melee/etc. We have a 10 year old and triplet 7 year olds as well as a... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byI'mTheMovieCritic101 March 15, 2017

To explain this, put a modern twist on the Mid Evil times...

I love Heath Ledger (RIP i miss you) so that's probably what's making me love this movie. There is no sex, just implied if that's concerns any o... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old July 31, 2020

It was ok

The love story was boring for kids but the sport was good.

What's the story?

Heath Ledger plays William Thatcher, a knight's squire who steps into his liege's armor when the knight is killed in a jousting match. All he is thinking of is winning the match so that he can get some food for himself and the other two squires (Mark Addy as Roland and Alan Tudyk as Wat). But once the armor is on and the lance is in his hand, his childhood dream of being a knight is awakened, and he persuades Roland and Wat to help him pretend to be a nobleman so that he can continue to compete.

Is it any good?

This is Ivanhoe crossed with Rocky for a new generation, and it's great silly movie fun. Of course William meets a beautiful princess (Shannyn Sossamon) and an arrogant champion who competes with him for the princess and the title (Rufus Sewell, wonderfully brooding as Count Adhemar). The secret of William's low birth is revealed at the most dramatic moment. But there's a happily-ever-after ending that is just right for this fairy tale. Ledger holds his own well in his first leading role, and Paul Bettany is completely winning as Chaucer, who may have a gambling problem but who knows the value of words. Sossamon, in her first role, is pretty but unimpressive. The art direction sets the scene beautifully, and, if you're willing to give it a chance, the music works very well, especially in a dance sequence that shifts about 600 years into David Bowie mid-step. If Bachman Turner Overdrive had been around in the 1400s, they would have played "Taking Care of Business" during combat.

If the idea of a medieval jousting movie set to classic rock songs like "We Will Rock You," "Low Rider," and "The Boys Are Back in Town" bothers you, forget A KNIGHT'S TALE and rent Ivanhoe instead. But if the idea appeals to you, get some popcorn and get ready for a ravishingly good time. In other words, leave skepticism behind, and it will rock you.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the music. Does it distract or add to the story?

  • How does this story compare to other medieval quest movies? 

  • How was Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of the immortal work The Canterbury Tales, presented in this movie? To what extent do you think this was an adequate representation, and where do you think the movie exaggerated or took liberties? 

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