Kyle Smith‘s review of Beowulf on Kyle Smith Online is, I’m sorry, quite hilarious. Sorry because I don’t feel that derision is the right way to go, but your funny bone had its own mindset. For what it’s worth, Beowulf producer and co-writer Roger Avary said it made him laugh also. The gist of the joke is that Beowulf has much erotic (and homoerotic) undercurrent going on, and is so intense that some (like Smith) feel the need to alleviate this with humor.

“With long, straight blond hair and a headband, Beowulf seems like Bjornborgowulf, but this is one Scandinavian who isn’t content to have a killer forehand. ‘I’m Beowulf,’ he declares. ‘I’m here to kill your monster.’ And quaff your drink and swive your wenches, please.

“The queen (Robin Wright Penn) frostily notifies Beowulf that ‘there have been many brave men who have come to taste my lord’s mead,’ at which point the newcomer must be wondering if he has stumbled into Ye Olde Gay Scene.

“Undeterred, Beowulf promptly strips naked in front of the queen, promising her that after he slays Grendel he’ll be happy to do some naked co-ed jousting with her, and then things get really strange. Grendel attacks again while Beowulf is nude, and while motion-capture Ray Winstone certainly has the carved physique nature denied the pillowy Ray Winstone we know from The Departed and Sexy Beast, you’d think he’d want to throw on some chain mail or at least pick up a codpiece before engaging in battle fierce with the slime-dripping beast.

“Instead, Beowulf, uh, rides the creature around the room. I mean, he mounts the monster bareback and bends it to his will. I mean, he squeezes the vicious demon between his rippling thighs and thrusts away with his fist. Never mind.”

For what it’s also worth, a friend saw Beowulf with a somewhat older industry crowd last night and reports that some of them were “howling” at some of the lines. Urgent, intense eros = hah-hah steam valve escape.