Synopsis: Throughout history, tales of chivalry have burnished the legends of brave, handsome knights who rescue fair damsels, slay dragons and conquer evil. But behind many a hero is a good-for-nothing younger brother trying just to stay out of the way of those dragons, evil and trouble in general. Danny McBride and James Franco team up for an epic comedy adventure set in a fantastical world–Your Highness. As two princes on a daring mission to save their land, they must rescue the heir apparent’s fiance before their kingdom is destroyed.
Release Date: April 8, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Fantasy
Fabious (James Franco) and Thadeous (Danny McBride) are the most different of brothers. The eldest, Fabious, is a great knight with many successful quests in his short lifetime; making him the favored son on his father, the King. Thadeous has squired his life away in the throes of pamperdom, laying with women at every chance, partaking in mischievous behavior, and causing more trouble than anyone cares to speak about.
When Fabious returns from his most recent quest, with the slain head of a cyclops, and a beautiful bride-to-be on his arm the kingdom rejoices; Thadeous rolls his eyes at his successful brother for he has the pangs of jealousy for he will never be King. The evil warlock Leezar (Justin Theroux) will not stand for the happy marriage of Fabious to Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) as she is the chosen virgin he must fornicate with when the two moons eclipse to give birth to the evilest and most powerful dragon the world has ever seen.
Taking her prisoner, Fabious and Thedeous must band together on a new quest to save her, and rid the world of Leezar forever. They are not alone, as they meet a fellow warrior on the road, the beautiful and deadly Isabel (Natalie Portman). A woman who will chop off your head, burn a group of men to their deaths, and remain with a clear conscience.
This quest to save the maiden virgin is set-up in the medieval time period of great knights and heroism but it is not a serious rendering of an age-old story. The chivalry and heroism have been overtaken by vulgarity and homophobic rants. The obvious idea here is to take the serious nature of these stories throughout film and literature’s history and make them humorous. Visions of Robin Hood: Men in Tights float through your mind as you watch the tragic farce that is Your Highness (because that film was better).
Clearly taking the majority of its plot points, and characters, from famous stories it succeeds at offering an almost nostalgic feel for cornerstones of myth and legend. The cyclops, the minotaur, a princess locked away in a tower, the Merlin legend, the sword in the stone and King Arthur, and the talking rock of the Neverending Story. More recently, Conan The Barbarian and Ghostbusters‘ Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) writhing in a red dress beckoning to be mated with while growling like a wild beast. Even the production design of the final battle scene in the chamber has the definite look and feel of Frankenstein’s lair and the electricity pouring in over live wires, hissing and crackling with great power.
It is not all that creative to take all of the above, and more, and use them in a comedy. It has been done before and will be done again, and hopefully next time with greater skill and effect. The positive use of all of the aforementioned is the distraction they provide from the film you are actually watching. There is a simple pleasure in imagining again these great stories, even if you have to do it on one of the worst ones ever made.
For Your Highness is nothing but a film where Danny McBride gets to say inappropriate and dirty things, James Franco gets to act overindulged and punch-happy, and Natalie Portman gets to be a badass–that was actually quite fun to watch. The faint glimmer of excellence, if there can be one in this sad, boring and poorly executed film, is Justin Theroux’s Leezar. As the evil wizard who wants nothing more than to be loved by his virgin, while becoming the greatest wizard ever, he oozes goofy evil combined with insecurity. Lazeer makes being an evil wizard look like a lot of fun, as well how gayfully it all is to crush men with magic.
Your Highness does not falter with the heroic acts that must occur. Surprisingly the sword fighting is the most entertaining part of the entire film. Yet the story itself is bland, too full of the crass and vulgar jokes of modern times, to work on any level. The film can just be added to the “what were they thinking” category and be forgotten, the sooner the better.
Comedy is subjective. You may laugh when Natalie Portman’s Isabel remarks on something “burning in my beaver”. Or see the humor when Danny McBride’s Theseous castrates an animal for a trophy to wear around his neck. Or perhaps you enjoy homophobic jokes about men fondling each other, or performing fellatio on themselves.
Maybe your taste lies more in laughing at the blatant pedophiliac and clear admissions of molestation on a child, by an old wise wizard. What is funny is to each their own but one thing is for certain, no matter how funny any of these things can be to a viewer if the jokes are not delivered, or directed, with talent and timing and skill they will not be funny. They instead become more offensive and leave you rolling your eyes and shaking your head at the mere thought that someone out there thought this was going to be funny.
Here, of course, we have the trap Your Highness has fallen into. It does not even live up to the possibility of becoming a stoner comedy, better appreciated on a second, or third viewing. Nothing can save this film, we can only hope the next outing by writers Danny McBride and Ben Best has some level of maturity and place.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): David Gordon Green
- Producer(s): Danny R. McBride, Ben Best
- Screenwriter(s): Danny McBride (Thadeous), James Franco (Fabious), Natalie Portman (Isabel), Justin Theroux (Leezar), Zooey Deschanel (Belladonna)
- Editor(s): Craig Alpert
- Cinematographer: Steve Jablonsky
- Production Designer(s): Tim Orr
- Music Score: Mark Tildesley
- Country Of Origin: USA