Diana Arnold (Alyssa Bernier) is your everyday, smartass American teen. On the same day that her History class studies the British Queen, Diana's father visits a coin shop. Over dinner, the two discuss that the Queen's image is on coins throughout the world and the two simply can't figure out the reason.
While studying great heroes of the world, Diana is given the assignment to develop a project that will make a positive change in the world...her project? Have the Queen's likeness removed from currency around the world (I guess solving world hunger was a bit too daunting). The project catches on and, drumroll please, Diana finds herself face to face with the Queen herself.
Are you snickering yet? You should be. "Royal Faceoff," despite its grand intentions, is an unintentionally campy film that too frequently plays like an Afterschool Special. Produced, written, directed by and featuring Stuart Pepper, "Royal Faceoff" has, perhaps, the most hilariously irritating opening credits and mind-numblingly bad opening song since that awful Chris Parnell flick "Evil Alien Conquerors."
As a general rule, I take a kindler, gentler approach to the world of ultra-indie filmmaking. It's not so much that I lower my standards...it's more that I recognize they are inherently working with significantly lower budgets, more inexperienced actors and production capabilities that inevitably lead to obvious and unavoidable deficits in the finished product.
In reality, there's not much more that I respect than the finished product from a truly independent filmmaker who has invested their heart, soul and hard-earned money in chasing their dreams.
Sometimes, this results in a truly wondrous finished product that defies its low-budget label. Recent examples of such a film would be Kimberly Wilson's "Maggie & Annie" or Alyson Shelton's "Eve of Understanding."
Then, sadly, there are films such as "Royal Faceoff" that fall on the other end of the spectrum as such striking disappointments that it's impossible to take a kinder, gentler approach without betraying my ethics in film criticism.
Do I respect Stuart Pepper for undertaking such a family friendly film? Absolutely. However, in all honesty, "Royal Faceoff" is undeniably disappointing on the level of 2006's "Fake Preacher."
In fairness to the cast, especially young Alyssa Bernier, it is difficult to determine if the disappointing performances are a result of poor acting, awkward dialogue or simply inexperienced actors given too little to work with in the film. My gut leans towards the latter as Bernier, especially, has a certain spark to her that kept me watching the film hoping to find a positive spin I could take in this review.
Alas, there was no positive spin to be found and "Royal Faceoff" ended up feeling like a royal rip-off by the time the closing credits arrived.
For more information on "Royal Faceoff," visit the film's website.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic