A TV movie-grade romantic farce that’s practically medieval in its cornball conventionality, All’s Faire in Love concerns the obnoxiously jovial courtship of a bland woman and a wannabe-Van Wilder doofus at a Renaissance fair. Recent college grad Kate (Christina Ricci) opts to work at the festivities after fleeing a business career centered only around money, while star quarterback Will (Owen Benjamin) is—in the first of countless contrivances—forced to slave away at the fair for school credits by his Renaissance lit professor (Cedric the Entertainer). Sparks between the two fly during an impromptu kiss during a performance of Romeo and Juliet, but their amour is frustrated by Rank (Chris Wylde), a pompous blowhard who, like the Queen (Ann-Margret) lording over this summer camp-ish operation, takes the proceedings’ role-playing exasperatingly seriously. Given that employees are separated into upper and lower classes, Rank treats fetch-boy Will and his new best friend Crocket (Matthew Lillard) with demeaning disdain, leading to a variety of showdowns in which Will calls Rank “Weird Guy” and Rank, speaking in over-the-top Victorian English, acts offended or makes threats that invariably lead to some sort of slapsticky collision or pratfall.
All’s Faire in Love‘s lackluster compositions and absence of rhythm are a perfect match for writer-director Scott Marshall’s script (co-written with R.A. White and Jeffrey Ray Wine), which operates according to a Revenge of the Nerds-style us-versus-them template almost as stagnant as Ricci’s phoned-in turn. More problematic is Benjamin, who delivers a dumb-but-cool routine that’s so stilted and off-key that the film operates with a veritable black hole of charisma at its center. Cutesy dunk-tank shenanigans, “colorful” peripheral characters (a little person! A crazy samurai! A fat oaf!), and Wylde’s embarrassingly strained ridiculousness all aim to create some energy, but have the opposite effect, further dragging the action down into a morass of laugh-free goofing-off. When, confounded by their elders’ idiotic behavior, a group of kids confess, “I don’t get adults,” it’s easy to understand why, since everyone in this story behaves nonsensically, right down to these dolts adhering to the Fair’s laughably made-up class dynamics. Then again, there’s little point in even lambasting the logic of a dim-bulb film that seeks humor from—and is ultimately epitomized by—the sight of a goat peeing in Lillard’s perpetually mugging face.