The Jewish holiday of Purim, whose traditions include drinking, noise-making and the consumption of three-cornered cookies called hamentaschen, is among the most joyous of feast days. But there's not much joy in "One Night With the King," a lavish but listless retelling of the biblical story of Esther.
In the role of Queen Esther, previously essayed by Joan Collins and a "Veggie Tales" cartoon scallion, Tiffany Dupont more closely resembles the vegetable. The daughter of Jews slaughtered by the villainous Hamen, Esther conceals her Jewish heritage when she is drafted by King Xerxes (Luke Goss) to replace the unacceptably pacifist Queen Vashti. The part calls for a headstrong spirit, but Dupont's flirtatious flounce is better suited to "West Side Story" than ancient times. Goss plays Xerxes with the swagger of a salsa star, and James Callis' pallid Hamen (he of the triangular treats) is hardly worth hooting at.
In the Purim story, Esther, nee Hadassah, reveals her true ancestry to save her people from Hamen's genocide. Although the snake-snarled swastika Hamen takes as his emblem points up the story's historical resonance, the emphasis in "One Night With the King" is less on averting the Jews' annihilation than making the world safe for individual freedom. The film's Persian baddies are unrepentant monarchists, while Hamen slurs the Jews by equating them with the hated Greeks, whose seditious philosophy he summarizes as, "All men are created equal."