Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break
Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break is the UK’s answer to Joker. The film stars Tom Meeten as the titular Paul Dood, a man who lives with his elderly mother and aspires to win the Trend Ladder Talent Show. To prepare for the show, his mother sews glittery costumes and provides advice when watching her son rehearse his interpretive dance to The Human League’s ‘Together in Electric Dreams’. Their relationship is loving and sincere.
Paul is the butt of every joke, bullied at work by his coworkers and taken advantage of at every turn when he has to rush to attend the talent show due to mistaking the date of the show for the following week. His mother and him miss their train due to a malicious train station attendant, are refused water at a tea shop, and have their cab stolen from them by a priest and his assistant – “I just love ****ing people over” the assistant tells the priest in the comfort of the cab. When the day takes a tragic turn thereafter, Paul knows exactly who he wants to exact revenge on.
Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break harnesses its humor and the collective thirst for fame when Paul live streams his lunch break following the talent show and confronts those who have done him wrong. Karma rears its head in the scenes that follow, ultimately providing Paul a grisly catharsis and rise to fame. Meeten carries with him a Robert Downey Jr.-esque appearance, and his commitment to the awkward and timid Paul Dood supports this black comedy film that would falter if the role were supported by lesser hands.
King Knight presents itself as a pagan comedy. If Richard Bates Jr.’s perspective on what it means to be pagan relates to flaunting non-comformity, he did a commendable job. If there’s something more to being pagan, I wouldn’t know based on his film. Apart from a Beltane party featuring booming EDM music (not exactly an obscure genre of music), there’s little about pagan belief or culture to be gleaned from King Knight.
That aside, the film focuses on the journey of Thorn (Matthew Gray Gubler), previously known as Thorton, to his twenty-year high school reunion. Amidst his coven, he’s hiding a pretty substantial secret: he’s not the person he presents himself to be. In high school, Thorn was prom king, class president, and played lacrosse. Growing up, he didn’t exactly champion non-conformity. Thorn hides his past from his coven, and even from his life partner Willow (Angela Sarafyan). The pair act as leaders within their coven, Thorn level-headed and a capable speaker – they frequently provide relationship advice to those struggling.
Thorn’s pagan beliefs have alienated him from his mother and his past. After Willow RSVP’s on his behalf to the reunion, Thorn opens up to his coven and acknowledges his youth that he had hidden from them. They elect to banish him from the coven, making his attendance at the reunion all the more important: he isn’t welcome at home anymore.
Based on its premise, one might expect King Knight to be a quirky, enjoyable feature. It even has Aubrey Plaza voicing a talking pine cone. That being said, Thorn’s charisma can only take a film so far. The stench of the defecation jokes is just too much.