Movie Review: Your Highness
If you have seen the trailer for Your Highness (directed by David Gordon Green; Pineapple Express, All The Real Girls), then you know exactly what you can expect from the film (I laughed a little during the trailer and I laughed a little during the film). Neither bad, nor good, Your Highness wears it’s
severed Minotaur penis around it’s neck comedic intent on it’s sleeve – and throws in some bare boobies and weed jokes for good measure.
The plot is relatively simple: two princes embark on a quest after the eldest brother’s bride-to-be is kidnapped by an evil wizard. Thadeous (played by Danny McBride, who co-wrote the film with frequent collaborator Ben Best) is a bit of a slacker and ne’er do well – due in part to living in the shadow of his older, braver, more elaborately-coiffed brother, Fabious (James Franco). It is the threat of banishment by his father the King – rather than a sense of fraternal duty or heroism - that motivates Thadeous to assist Fabious in rescuing his betrothed, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), from Leezar (Justin Theroux). Leezar’s sinister intentions towards Belladonna are untoward – he hopes to impregnate her during a magical, sex ritual – resulting in the conception of a dragon…like you do. Along their journey, Thadeous and Fabious encounter several threats and obstacles, including – but not limited to: magical creatures, betrayal, a hairless man named Marteetee. a randy minotaur – and a beautiful, Xena-Warrior-Princess-type named Isabel (played by Natalie Portman*). Isabel demonstrates an uncommon gift for ass-kickery and accompanies the brothers on their quest (as it is compatible with her own) – throughout which Thadeous makes eyes at her and she repeatedly spurns his advances.
Your Highness is marketed as a stoner comedy – and at first it kind of is – but mercifully it all but abandons that premise after the first 20 minutes. Still, the humor is mostly of the stupid variety (which, don’t get me wrong – I like…Thadeous telling his brother that he needs to ‘handle his shit’ made me giggle like a 14 year old boy) and - while I really like Danny McBride – nothing in the film made me laugh harder than Justin Theroux as Leezar. Nearly every time the man turned up on-screen, I found myself wheezing. A scene featuring Leezar in his bedroom doodling with pen and paper actually made me laugh so hard I thought I might throw up. It’s a shame that the truly amusing bits were too few and far in between – it’s hard not to expect more from the minds which have brought us Eastbound and Down and The Foot Fist Way. That said, I enjoyed that Your Highness felt like a throw-back to the sword-and-sorcery fantasy movies of the ’80s (like Dragon Slayer, Conan the Destroyer, Excalibur, Ice Pirates and Krull) that I grew up loving. I think that is the thing really, I loved this kind of movie when I was growing up and Your Highness really feels like it was made with a young, puberty-reaching audience in mind. If I were a 14 year old boy, this movie would have killed me.
(You can watch the red band trailer here, it really is a pretty accurate summary of what you can expect from the film – and whether or not it will be your cup of tea).
*A word about Natalie Portman. I have to come clean…I just don’t like her. I think she’s lovely to look at (and credit where credit is due – she does have a sweet ass), but acting-wise I think she peaked in The Professional. Her performances tend to involve her making a single facial expression throughout a film and then holding it for the duration. For example, in Your Highness she spoke every single line with a belabored smolder. Glancing through her oeuvre you will notice her tendency to commit to making one face – and really sticking to it – she does at least change it from film to film. (I’ve formulated an easy to read list for your amusement, it reads: Film – facial expression)
Black Swan – pained
Star Wars prequels – bored constipation
The Other Boleyn Girl – bitchy determination
Closer - bemused indifference
Garden State – mild retardation