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Ren Faire movie review & film summary (2024)

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Ren Faire movie review & film summary (2024)

You won’t soon forget King George Coulam, the octogenarian multi-millionaire founder of the Texas Renaissance Festival, the largest of these events in the world. Coulam is obscenely wealthy—a glimpse of his profile on a site where he’s looking for a woman half his age to be a sugar daddy for lists his wealth at over $100 million—and, well, the descriptor ‘irascible’ would be the politest way to define him. Coulam lords over his empire like an actual King, clearly taking his position in this operation seriously but also succumbing to what would delicately be called a toxic workplace. He randomly yells at employees when he’s not scouring the web for a woman to live out his last decade on Earth with. A series of dates with potential partners at Olive Garden wherein Coulam repeatedly asserts the importance of natural breasts are truly amazing docu-theater, the kind of docuseries moments that make this show feel a bit more like “The Righteous Gemstones” than “Succession.”

Coulam’s empire is more than turkey legs in an abandoned field and endless breadsticks on awkward dates. The Texas Renaissance Festival is an impressive operation—one wishes the series spent a bit more time just on the sheer scope of an event with thousands of attendees, multiple shops, events, restaurants, etc. And Coulam loves to bathe in his success, whether it’s the opulence of his “rococo” house—which he basically explains means a lot of extravagance—or the fact that he’s basically founded a small town around the festival, over which he’s the mayor, of course. Coulam is judge, jury, and executioner in this mini-society, proclaiming how he wants to step down and find a successor but is increasingly erratic in his judgments and behaviors. It’s hard to be the King.

“Ren Faire” pushes forward three potential heirs to the Coulam throne: Jeff Baldwin, Louie Migliaccio, and Darla Smith. Baldwin is the most sympathetic of the bunch, an actor who loves Shrek: The Musical and seems to come to life on the stage. As the general manager of the festival, the kind Baldwin has undeniably been a success, but King George doubts his instincts to run the whole thing and gets obsessed with the fact that Jeff wants to hire his wife, even though she’s qualified and experienced to take the job. George is the insulated and privileged boss whose quirks can become toxic if you happen to rub him the wrong way on the wrong day. One feels that Jeff has done that a few times, which is normal for an employee, but George isn’t a normal boss. To take the “Succession” thing a step further, if George is Logan than Jeff is Kendall—the obvious heir to everyone but daddy.

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