Your Highness (2011)
Release Date: April 8th, 2011 MPAA Rating: R
Director: David Gordon Green Actors: Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux, Rasmus Hardiker
our Highness” offers plenty of sword and sorcery action, explosive special effects, and bloody battles consisting of towering beasts and hellish wizards. Too bad the film so desperately wants to be a comedy. While there are some genuinely funny moments, the vulgarities and obscenities tire quickly with their incessant usage. Similarly, the colorfully inauthentic medieval speak can only carry the humor so far. It’s a unique blend, but ultimately an unbalanced one, as the flashy action sequences provide far more entertainment than the scattering of silly slapstick gags and inane ramblings of rivalrous siblings. An action fantasy film with a little humor, or a flat-out comedy set in the world of knights in shining armor would have been preferable, but the fifty-fifty split only manages to satisfy half the time.
Constantly overshadowed by the chivalrous actions of his brother Prince Fabious (James Franco), disgruntled scoundrel Thadeous (Danny McBride) vents his frustrations by blundering simple diplomatic assignments, indulging in too many spirits, and berating his aide Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker). But when Fabious’ new bride Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) is kidnapped by the evil sorcerer Leezar (Justin Theroux), Thadeous is forced to tag along on his very first quest. Encountering a perverted yet wise magus, bare-breasted jungle savages, and the fiercely driven warrior woman Isabel (Natalie Portman), Thadeous must learn to play the role of a valiant warrior – and when Fabious is captured by Leezar, the bumbling prince just might become a hero as well.
“Your Highness” doesn’t offer up any surprises. It’s a stoner comedy fused with a swords-and-sorcery epic, replete with riddles, mythological monsters, warlocks, a labyrinth, helpless virgins, and colorful magic. Knights in shining armor rescue damsels in distress in an adventure to vanquish a mighty sorcerer. They do, however, creatively curse with the most anachronously silly language. Nearly every line of McBride’s dialogue ends with crassness, which manages a genuine laugh only the first few times. “Sourpuss,” “Duh,” “Nice,” and most of the profanity offers a simpering touch rarely seen in period-piece comedies.
Unlike “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” or “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” the special effects-laden action is of the caliber and quantity of a serious production, contributing to the same difficulties found with “Pineapple Express” – it’s primarily a gross-out comedy with too much focus on the accompanying additive genre. It seems confused whether it wants to be a joke or an adventure. Fortunately, “Your Highness” features a pleasing opening title sequence reminiscent of a Disneyland ride, sibling rivalry bested only by a good smoke, goofy supporting characters (many included for a single gag, then disposed of), and Natalie Portman, who proves her acting chops in a new light: she must recite achingly asinine lines while keeping a straight face. At least the specialization in awkward situations and embarrassing encounters reigns supreme in a bawdy road trip quest with a few thrillingly fun medieval skirmishes.
– The Massie Twins