Apr 102011

Coming from an epic fantasy land of fart jokes and nob gags, Your HIghness is an epic, medieval fantasy, adventure that is basically one giant nob gag; and comes loaded with all the moronic and juvenile humour of a 13-year-olds doodle pad.

Following the tale of Prince Thadeous (Danny McBride, Pineapple Express); a lazy, good-for-nothing oaf who’s laughed at in court, generally despised by everyone but his servant Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker, Lead Balloon), only tolerated as he’s the younger of two princes populating the film’s fantasy realm, and opens the film by mucking up a simple treaty (thanks to an illicit affair, and the heavy-petting of a rather important midget); Your Highness chronicles the Prince’s quest for glory, as he joins his elder brother Fabious (James Franco, 127 Hours) on a dangerous mission that threatens the entirety of their kingdom.

Acting upon a century-old prophecy, the wicked sorcerer Leezar (Justin Theroux, American Psycho) kidnaps Fabious’ bride to be; a beautiful young virgin named Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel, 500 Days of Summer); causing King Tallious (Charles Dance, The Last Action Hero) to send both of his sons; the courageous, brave, battle-hardened, and consistently crowd-pleasing Fabious, as well as the bitter disappointment that is Thadeous; to rescue her, before the land’s two moons eclipse, and Leezar is able to impregnate the young virgin with a kingdom destroying dragon.

Agreeing to embark upon the perilous quest with his brother, his amusing but generally useless servant, Fabious’ mechanical bird Simon, and a band of rough-and-ready knights, solely because he faces banishment if he refuses, Thadeous’ dreams of a relaxing romp through the forest are soon quelled when the men are betrayed by several of their own, he’s forced to meet (and please) a perverted old wizard who like to get stoned (and make light of child abuse), comes face-to-face with dragons, forest nymphs, a minotaur, and a sexy warrior woman named Isabelle (Natalie Portman, Black Swan), who eventually joins the trio on their quest to stop the dark lord Leezar.

We then watch as the film lurches from one depraved, juvenile, and; more often than not; terribly unfunny sex joke to another, with the odd bit of physical comedy thrown in now and then (such as showing a guy in a suit of armour fall down some stairs, or watching poison get sucked from a wound terrifyingly close to one character’s genitals) as we watch Thadeous improve his relationship with his brother, fulfill numerous tasks on his quest, grow into a battle ready warrior, and fulfill a number of other points on the checklist of creating a generic medieval fantasy, all in the name of comedy.

Yet while the generic fantasy checklist; which takes the gang through highs and lows, and leads them into many side quests and dangerous lands; may be a must for a satirical comedy of this nature, it grows fairly tiresome, fairly quickly; as do the exaggerated Olde English accents the cast lay on for humorous effect (to varying degrees of success); and only adds to to the feeling that Your Highness is basically one hugely dragged out joke (consisting of making fun of a a genre that basically makes fun of itself, in an uninspired and not spoofy enough manner, by working in as many sex jokes and f-bombs as possible) that didn’t really need to be any longer than it’s original Red Band trailer.

James Franco suits the part of the glorified heir to the throne, and is well practiced in starring in like-minded stoner comedies (having appeared alongside McBride in Pineapple Express), although remains consistently annoying throughout, and has a constantly fluxuating accent that’s hard to pinpoint; much like that of Natalie Portman, who’s Olde English drifts into cheap Cockney more than once, but fulfills her role as the movie’s eye-candy exceptionally well (although anyone hoping for more nudity than the well publicized thong scene at the pool, will be thoroughly disappointed; as that has been seen in its entirety in numerous trailers), with her boosted cleavage and strong, Xena-like, warrior wiles always on show; however it’s the film’s main star (McBride) who comes off best, perfectly suiting the more modern, lazy, pot-loving, sex-obsessed Prince Thadeous, and somehow manages to stay funny and watchable throughout, despite being the worst culprit for dropping vulgar jokes, and unnecessary f-bombs; the staple joke, and main draw, of the movie).

Supporting actors also deliver adequate and similarly over-the-top performances; from Justin Theroux’s Leezar (who’s easily one of the film’s funniest characters, and played with all the delusions of grandeur, hints of loneliness, and precision comic timing needed to make his character a success), to King Tallious (a crucial but fairly minor part, adequately pulled off by English actor Charles Dance), and Rasmus Hardiker’s Courtney (the often amusing, yet entirely stereotypical and instantly forgettable, part of Thadeous’ servant).

David Gordon Green’s (Pineapple Express) direction is also apt; yet far from inspired or original; including all of the typical shots demanded of a fantasy quest movie; including numerous Lord of the Rings style arial shots of the characters running over mountains, or other nature-filled landscapes; which ensure the film seems to fit its medieval looking time period (just about), and always looks rather stunning.

However, people who are going to see Your Highness won’t really care how the film looks, if the acting slips now and then, or even if one or two continuity errors are so obvious they make you question what you’re seeing, and will simply be asking if there’s as much swearing, as many crude sex jokes, and as much of Natalie Portman’s bottom on show as there appears to be from the Red Band Trailers (as opposed to the cleaner trailers which censored the cursing, and even added some unflattering granny-pants onto Portman’s rear); to which the answer would be a resounding yes.

So despite the tone of this review, Your Highness isn;t a bad film; it’s blend of juvenile nob gags and unsubtle use of the word ‘fuck’ will prove hilarious to its intended audience (and should have 13-to-16-year-old lads both double up laughed, masturbating, and getting high for its entire 102 minute runtime); it’s just a very subjective movie (as is the case with any comedy; all being a matter of personal preference), and will only be suited for people who cried laughing all the way through the trailer, and want over an hour-and-a-half more of the same (even though the funniest moments are all contained within, and spoilt by, the trailer).

Anyone who found the trailer for Your Highness only slightly amusing, and not laugh-out-loud funny, should stay away, possibly wait for the Blu-ray release, and in the meantime visit another recently released comedy (such as Hall Pass), find a decent medieval based fantasy flick (like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy), or revisit the classic, timeless, and unbeatable medieval questing comedy; Monty Python and the Holy Grail; as while the stoners-meet-wizards movie Your Highness may be epic, fun, and hilariously funny to every male teen watching, the award for Best Quest Ever is still held by The Holy Grail; a movie which is pure magic. Motherfucker.

Matt Wheeldon.