The Excalibur Kid

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
The Excalibur Kid Movie Poster Image
Fun fantasy-adventure introduces Arthurian legend.
  • PG
  • 1999
  • 88 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Some powers are too dangerous to be toyed with. "Teenagers sure are a moody bunch." It's important to know where one belongs.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Zach shows grace under pressure, good humor, and flexibility in his predicament. He displays courage when he engages in swordplay to defend Arthur. Zach is willing to try things and unfazed by great upheaval. He shows Solomonic wisdom when he solves some subjects' dispute.

Violence

Zach is chased by sword-wielding enemies. He fights back with bravery and aplomb.

Sex

A handmaid expects to sleep in Zach's, bed but he turns her down. He is shown shirtless.

Language

"Fascist," "goof," "pip-squeak," "whippersnapper," "brat," and "freaks."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Zach, though 15, is offered a variety of alcoholic beverages by his hosts from the year 486. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Excalibur Kid is a 1999 fantasy. It's an engaging story about a boy longing for the days of chivalry, jousting, and damsel-saving who is magically transported to the year 486 during a period of the nascent British Empire's turbulent history. A handmaid tries to bed the 15-year-old, and hosts try to feed him alcohol. While he turns both down, he enthusiastically engages in swordplay and behind-the-scenes political intrigue, culminating in the crowning of the mythical King Arthur. Name-calling includes "fascist," "goof," "pip-squeak," "whippersnapper," "brat," and "freaks."

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What's the story?

In THE EXCALIBUR KID, Zach (Jason McSkimming) is an outgoing 15-year-old fencing enthusiast who is disturbed to learn that his parents plan to move the family away from the happy life he has constructed in his hometown. At a moment when he feels he has no control over his fate, a scheming half-sister of the soon-to-be king Arthur summons him magically to England, circa 486, to help her thwart her brother's ascension to the throne. As a student and admirer of that era, he is unfazed by landing in ancient England, although he does complain about the cold, the food, and poor personal hygiene of everyone he meets. Manipulated by the sister into removing the sword Excalibur from a magical king-anointing stone before Arthur can take credit for it, she rushes Zach to coronation. Her plan is to rule England herself through Zach, but he proves too independent-minded to control. Zach uses many modern (for 1999) slang terms, including "phat," "sweet," "cool," and "whatever," which is the source of some of the movie's comedy.

Is it any good?

This will be fun and entertaining for tweens and a nice introduction to the Arthurian legend and Merlin's magic. The Excalibur Kid's adventure and setting make up for acting and special effects that rely more on charm than excellence. Zach is enthusiastic and good-humored even in the face of danger, and ultimately it's he who comes up with the time-altering plan that allows Merlin to undo the damage, crown Arthur, and help Zach realize his goals. All this adds to the fun. It's a bit odd that Zach doesn't immediately question how he landed 1,500 years in the past, but he is a roll-with-the-punches kind of guy, which is one of the movie's pluses.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about all the aspects of Old England that Zach admires in The Excalibur Kid: chivalry, swordplay, jousting, and fighting wars. Do you think he likes the idea of them more than the realities, as chivalry put down women and the other activities all resulted in a great deal of bloodshed?

  • Merlin the magician lived his life backwards, which allowed him to know the future. What would you do if you knew what was coming?

  • How good a job does the movie do in representing magical powers and events? Do you find them believable? Why, or why not?

  • How does Zach demonstrate courage in The Excalibur Kid? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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