Review of Your Highness - In the end, the whole experience of Your Highness is kind of like, well, getting high.
You can say this for Your Highness, the new medieval stoner comedy starring Danny McBride and James Franco—it is the first of its kind. No, it's not the first stoner comedy, of course, and certainly not the first medieval movie. But it's the first to tie them together in such a rancid, raunchy ball of R-rated violence and ridiculousness. Now, that said, the movie—which was written by McBride and his longtime collaborator and cohort Ben Best—has moments that are incredibly funny. What it doesn't have is a story that's interesting enough to keep you engaged, and while it sparks up a bowl that's seriously crude, it's the constant stream of teenage-era gay jokes that are actually offensive.
McBride is Thadeous, a plump, petulant, self-absorbed younger prince who can never get anything right. His older brother, Fabious (James Franco), is the perfect hero, worshipped by everyone, including their father and his virginal bride-to-be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), whom he rescued from the clutches of the evil wizard Lazzar (Justin Theroux). Yes, everone worships Fabious, everyone, that is, but his brother, who is a general pain in the ass whose only motivation is to get wasted and laid and be generally beloved, not necessarily in that order. Fabious, constantly trying to make him happy, even offers him the role of best man in his wedding. On the day of the event, however, Thadeous chooses instead to get high and chase sheep, and Lazzar turns up out of nowhere to kidnap Belladonna. He has plans to impregnate her, when the two moons converge, which will cement his evil plan blah blah blah. The details make no difference—a quest is on, and this time the King (Charles Dance) insists that his lowly younger son accompanies his older brother. There's betrayal and blood, and though things pick up once they run into the ass-kicking warrior Isabel (Natalie Portman), the movie eventually runs its course without any real surprises to speak of.
Right. You get it. McBride is essentially doing a slightly more immature take on Kenny Powers, the jerk he plays on the incredibly funny HBO show "Eastbound and Down." But that show works because the episodes are just 25 minutes long, and the story, ridiculous though it is, makes sense. There's not much to the tale of Your Highness beyond set pieces whose point is to let McBride and Franco wear codpieces and drop f-bombs which are so out of time and place that they're often hysterical. McBride's strength continues to be that he is absolutely, utterly beyond embarrassment. He will do almost anything at his own expense. And yes, the raunch factor is through the roof, so over-the-top that there are moments where you cannot believe that what is happening is actually happening—the prize Thadeous collects from a fallen foe, for instance, eventually gets more screen time than any of us might wish for. Like Pineapple Express, however—also directed by David Gordon Green—Your Highness has to end with a huge action sequence. In the former, however, that was the icing on the cake, the bit that tied it all together and earned the film its R-rating. The climax here (no euphemism intended) isn't interesting, it's just inevitable.
In the end, the whole experience of Your Highness is kind of like, well, getting high. It starts out very funny, but by the end you're just kind of bored and tired and ready for a nap.
More on Your Highnes:
Genre/s: Comedy Adventure
Release Date/s: April 8, 2011 (Showtimes & Tickets)
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Production Company: Stuber Productions
Official Site: Official Site for Your Highness
CAST and CREW FOR Your Highness
Starring: Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux, Toby Jones
Directed By: David Gordon Green
Written By: Danny McBride & Ben Best
Produced By: Scott Stuber