Seize Them! review – revolting peasants make merry in medieval times

There’s a mega-helping of daftness, silliness and goofiness in this wacky British comedy of Ye Olden Medieval Dayes from screenwriter Andy Riley and director Curtis Vowell – and I have to say the them there troupe of Mat Baynton, Simon Farnaby et al have done this kind of thing a bit better with their Horrible Histories spin-off movies, but there are some laughs and likability here, due in some part to a great cast.

Aimee Lou Wood plays the grotesquely spoilt and entitled Queen Dagan, advised by slippery Machiavellian courtier Leofwine (Jessica Hynes). Faced by a Wat Tyler-ish uprising led by “Humble” Joan (Nicola Coughlan) – who demurely insists on being just called “Joan” – the Queen finds that her screeching commands to her guards to seize the intruders have no effect. But she has one unexpected friend, the smart, discreet attendant Shulmay, played by the always excellent Lolly Adefope, and with the help of a humble peasant (Nick Frost), Shulmay might yet get her majesty to exile. Paul Kaye – whose cruel red-carpet interviewer Dennis Pennis alter ego recently cropped up in Morgan Neville’s documentary about Steve Martin – has a cameo here as the louche and objectionable King Ivarr from foreign lands who might make common cause with the revolutionary upstart “Humble” Joan.

You can’t do this kind of comedy without invoking Monty Python and the Holy Grail at some level, and it’s impossible to watch this without remembering how ordinary folk knew Arthur was a king (“He hasn’t got shit all over him”). But the difference is that this is a very female-centred movie, with very good comedy turns all round.

Seize Them! is in UK and Irish cinemas from 5 April.

The Guardian