Royal Faceoff, and independent picture from director Stu Pepper, is an intriguing picture with a unique, but odd story that sets a young girl, trying to change the world for the better, to London to challenge the crowned Queen of England to remove her image from all currency in the former British colonies and commonwealths. The premise is both good and bad for the film as its unique plot allows for some interesting story dynamics we’ve never seen before in a film, but the sheer odd-ball nature of it makes it almost impossible to take the film seriously at times because the suspension of disbelief is so great there’s nothing real to grab on to.

The film opens up with one of the most cheese-tacular opening songs of all time relaying the events of the film (a version also closes up the movie providing an ending summation), but as you progress through the movie its hard to determine if the production is progressing with tongue planted firmly in the co-screenwriter’s cheeks or if most of the film was written with a straight face. There are some points in the film where the actors really overstep and try to hard to create some artificial humor, which makes you laugh, but for all the wrong reasons.

The storyline itself could be interpreted two ways, as either a satire of the American tendency to overstep our international bounds and make unneeded changes to countries we have no business meddling with, or a simple feel good family-type comedy one is likely to find on ABC Family on a Friday night. The film works out far better with the former rather than the latter. There are also some curious subplots about Diana and her family being direct descendents of the infamous traitor Benedict Arnold and the Queen’s love letters to former President Truman. Added into the whole, these subplots don’t seem to gel entirely with the rest of the production.

Pepper and co-writer Michael Sausville’s scripted dialog ranges from witty in parts to downright groan inducing in others, especially when the lead character’s parents are interacting with her, the quick cuts and dialog play host to some inconsistencies and have a “home-movie” feel to them at times making themselves more obvious than they need to be. Coupled that with two very awkward montages, one of Diana, in a bikini, listening to her boyfriend play on his guitar and the other as an introduction montage to London in which we are treated to still pictures of the roofs of buildings, and you can see how the movie can feel awkward at times.

It’s a shame because Pepper’s direction is spot on in some instances with some great perspective shots and use of existing sets. You can tell the film was done with a minimal budget (especially since London looks conspicuously like southern Florida), but this doesn’t really detract from the film. What do distract the viewer is the Gandhi-inspired flashbacks where both Diana and her dad, curiously, share the same visions but more than one of them go on for far too long to the point where it looks like the film is being padded out, and the fact that this is a very dialog heavy film with no action shots to break anything up and give the viewer some reprieve throughout its nearly two hour runtime.

I certainly don’t want it to sound like I hated this film, far from it; it’s a curious, but interesting movie that has great ambitions but maybe not the script and budget to back up those ideas to their full potential. As mentioned before, examining it as a satire of the American culture, even if it was never intended to be held in such light, opens up a realm of possibilities for the feature. As a family-centric piece about a young girl whose class assignment gets a little out of hand, it’s an adequate vehicle for young girls as an inspirational piece. The film isn’t for everyone, and ambition might have been bigger than execution here, but Pepper has a keen eye and seems adept at working with a minimal budget, so here’s looking forward to the next from him and his team.

Written by Erich Becker
Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!