TBT: All’s Faire in Love (2009)

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I mentioned this in Christina Ricci’s Woman Crush Wednesday, and I thought I’d review it for Snark Week. Well, now it’s in time for Valentine’s Day, but still with a side of snark! All’s Faire in Love (2009) is not a historical costume movie, but it was filmed at the Michigan Renaissance Festival, and everyone here at Frock Flicks HQ has attended and worked many renfaires over the years, so this is our (and especially my) bailiwick. Also, the flick is currently free on Amazon Prime and ain’t nobody gonna pay extra to watch this thing.

The hackneyed plot starts with Kate (Ricci) who ditches a big-business job and runs away to “act” at the renfaire where her British cousin works. At the same time, a big dumb college football player, Will, is forced to work at the renfaire by his Shakespeare professor because the kid skipped class all semester and would flunk out and not be able to play sports. So Kate is at the faire full of excitement, while Will is there with a chip on his shoulder, and really, he’s a jerk who deserves to be taken down a peg or 20.

All's Faire in Love (2009)

In one particularly silly scene, Will is forced to lay down in a mud puddle, & the queen & her court walk over him.

All's Faire in Love (2009)

But in a bit of film continuity fail, he rises up & in the next scene, his shirt is perfectly clean. Ooops!

The cast of the faire requires 110% full-immersion acting, which to me, ye olde renfaire actor, is hilariously fun, yet also unlikely as fuck. The jock character Will is pouty about it and never buys into it, which I guess is supposed to be a ‘fish out of water’ deal, but this nobody actor Owen Benjamin just seems doofusy and not cute. Christina Ricci does a better job of riding the line between loving the ye olde tymey and history and acting shit that her character is into, but also still being a modern chick who can see that the ‘bad guys’ of the story are obnoxious.

All's Faire in Love (2009)

Renfaire bodices, metal grommets, elastic-top smocks, oh my!

All's Faire in Love (2009)

Codflaps & unnecessary lacing!

Hijinx ensue while the peasant side of the renfaire cast and the nobles side of the renfaire cast tease each other. This culminates, such as it is, in a stage performance that determines who gets to be nobles in the next year’s faire. Oh and there’s a predictable romance between Kate and Will, but it doesn’t end totally predictably, which I appreciated.

What was most cute to me, as a faire person, is seeing the movie’s characters make use of all the standard tropes of renfaire, like the joust, the dunking booth, the stocks, various games and rides, and wandering in and out of taverns and booths. All the renfaires I know are in California, but the Michigan Renaissance Festival has the classic look and feel. But then, I enjoy watching “The Safety Dance” video because it’s set at a renfaire, so IDK, take this all with a big grain of salt.

All's Faire in Love (2009)

At the joust, the extras have better costumes than the leads.

All's Faire in Love (2009)

Jester’s gotta jest.

Of course, there’s the queen, supposedly Queen Elizabeth I, though never explicitly named as such. She’s played by Ann-Margaret, 1960s sex-symbol and one of the few somewhat well-known actors in this mess. Comedian Cedric the Entertainer has a cameo as the football player’s professor.

All's Faire in Love (2009)

At court, the random, non-speaking, background ladies-in-waiting are dressed a bit more correctly than Princess Jeanette & the queen up front.

The costumes are very typical renfaire, so a hodgepodge of 16th-century England and Hollywood cliches. The leading characters have the least historical costumes while the extras have much more accurate ones. I think this is mostly to make the leads funny, since this flick is supposed to be a comedy. Where the main characters’ costumes are exaggerated or modified from historical or even typical renfaire styles, it emphasizes something ridiculous about those character.

All's Faire in Love (2009)

Princess Jeanette runs around sleeveless most of the movie. But she’s also characterized as a drunk bimbo.

All's Faire in Love (2009)

She can wear sleeves, but she doesn’t always because she’s a slacker.

All's Faire in Love (2009)

Kate’s peasant costume. While the materials are dubious, I’ll give the designer credit for the nice shape of that bodice — it’s reasonably evocative of the late 16th-c.

Christina Ricci, All's Faire in Love (2009)

At the end of movie, she wears this for the performance. It’s very pretty & nicely fitted, but kind of a fantasy ye olde timey style more than anything.

 

Are you fond of renfaires? Would you watch All’s Faire in Love?

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

31 Responses

  1. STEPHANI

    Ok, I watched this last fall, and found it cheesily delightful, as a sometime-rennie myself (Maryland Renaissance Festival ftw y’all!). Jock-bro’s acting was realistically horrible. I truly believed he was just some football player picked off the bench and tossed a script to perform in an hour instead of a football. The wonder is that he managed to memorize the lines at all. The rest of it was alternately cringey/quirky/cute. Definitely a neverwatchagain experience. But I was content with my choice that day!

    Reply
  2. mmcquown

    Ren faires: there’s one here in PA which is pretty good; went a few times. The movie — saw it once, since I’ll watch Ricci in just about anything, but it wasn’t particularly memorable.

    Reply
  3. LydiaR

    Full confession: I’ve watched this more than once, mostly because I was working in a shop at the Michigan Renaissance Festival the summer they filmed this. The movie was a logistical nightmare for those of us who worked at the faire, causing all kinds of extra difficulties and traffic jams. Apparently Ann-Margaret was lovely to work with, and Matthew Lillard was really nice to all the faire workers, but Christina Ricci thought we were all freaks and hated being there. I think I heard that she was dating Owen Benjamin at the time and made this movie just so he could have a role in it. The reason so many of the extras look better than the main cast is that they used locals when they could, and they provided their own costumes. I mostly enjoyed watching this for the background folks, many of whom I knew or at least recognized.

    The film crew built the lovely stage that the final scene uses, and was supposed to let the faire keep it, but California set builders know nothing of Michigan winters, so they didn’t use properly treated wood. The following summer the whole thing was collapsing and had to be torn down.

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      Bummer that Ricci was a jerk — the opposite of her character’s attitude towards the faire! And I was wondering if the extras were from the faire cast & using their own costumes.

      Hilariously sad about that set, it was a great stage.

      Reply
    • Sam

      I suspected as much about the extras, so I’m glad to hear you confirm it! I worked at NYRF for 5 years and I’m pretty sure I recognize the woman announcing the joust as having been with us, too.

      I’m SO jealous of their semi-historical luxury tent- I wish we had those backstage! Some of the “magic” of Faire for me was sullied by waking up in a tiny vinyl backpacking tent and dragging my ass out of my sleeping bag on cold September mornings and seeing everyone having a morning cigarette in their t-shirts and flip flops.

      Reply
  4. Shashwat

    The last one looks like a ripoff of La Reine Margot costumes.By the way,I think it is complicated to have sleeves even on the shoulder blades(as in tudor era necklines) without getting unsightly wrinkles.How these designers design sleeves that manage to stay completely off shoulder(or cold shoulder with straps)without falling off is beyond me.

    Reply
  5. Sarah Walsh

    My husband and I got together because of the SCA and Ren Faires, so we kinda had to watch this. It is pure fluff and utterly silly, and really has such a niche audience as to make me surprised that it was made at all, but we enjoyed the inside jokes. I don’t feel the need to watch it again, but it’s a pleasant little romp if you just need something to have on in the background while you’re sewing.

    Oh, and this thread is probably the perfect place to mention that there’s a graphic novel called “All’s Faire in Middle School” about a Rennie kid who has been homeschooled her whole life and been part of the Ren Faire with her family since before she could walk, but now – zounds! – she’s going to the public middle school.

    Reply
  6. Sam Marchiony

    I saw this movie once about five years ago and could never find it again – I was half-convinced I’d imagined it! Looking at it now, what hurts most is the hair! COVER IT.

    Reply
  7. Yanina

    I’ve never been to renfaire (not a thing here), but I think I would thouroughly enjoy it – after watching last year tv series “American Princess” set at the renfare. The plot is somewhat reminiscent of the film, rich girl ends up at the renfaire and reevaluates her life, and the show is totally hilarious. I never knew I could laugh so much.

    Reply
  8. Brenna

    How did I not know of this before????!!!!!! I live in Michigan and attend the Holly Renaissance Festival every year. Thank you for bringing this to my attention – added to my must-watch list!

    Reply
    • Lady Hermina De Pagan

      There are about 5,000 swampies at Pennsic War who I know would! Pennsic Trim is a thing…..

      Reply
  9. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    I never heard of this movie! Now I need to watch it and will be profoundly disappointed if they didn’t use the song “Where is the Renaissance in the Festival” somewhere in the soundtrack.
    Also if this counts what about a snark week watch of the Knights of Badassdom? A monster unleashed at a LARP, pure silly fun.

    Reply
  10. Kaite Fink

    It’s been years and years since I attended Michigan’s Ren-Fest. There’s one closer to me on the west side of the state, but the Holly one is far bigger. Either way, my outfit was very snarkable, but we always had fun being silly wenches. I don’t know if I could watch this (not just because I don’t have Prime).

    Reply
  11. Kimberly Hodgkins

    I’d forgotten about this movie! Pretty sure I watched it while on a ‘he has to have done more than scooby doo’ Matthew Lillard kick. Costumes were fun in an “I’ve seen that at faire” (NYRF in Tuxedo, NY) kinda way. Reading this, I also thought of Knights of Badassdom which was really a lot of fun! Thanks for the reminders

    Reply
  12. TSTooth

    My family (“lifer” SCAdians with friends on the faire circuit) loved “American Princess,” which was adapted from a true story about an English major who ran away to the faire. Tempted to see this one just for a look at Matthew Lillard in garb!

    Reply
  13. heratech

    oooh, oooh, I know that well dressed extra on the horse! <3 Now I must track down this movie.

    Reply
  14. Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

    I really want to see this movie. I worked at the NY Renaissance Faire outside of NYC one summer. It was my 1st paying acting gig, and the most interesting thing is that Michelle Hurd, who is in Picard, played Maid Marian that summer, and all the actors spent most of their time quoting from Robin Hood: Prince of Iowa which came out that summer.

    Reply

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