Director David Gordon Green has somewhat successfully made the medieval stoner film with Your Highness. The movie is steeped in the vulgar, stupid humor of something like Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and combines it with the pot loving lore of Pineapple Express. If you hated those two films then Your Highness is not for you. If you happen to love those movies and/or you can allow a film to not take itself seriously, then you might be surprised by Your Highness’ absurd brand of raunchy humor.
When Prince Fabious’ (James Franco) bride-to-be is kidnapped by an evil wizard he goes on a quest with his stupid younger brother Thadeous (Danny McBride) to save her. The two are on a time frame though as the dark wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux) means to fulfill an ancient prophecy on the eclipse of two moons by sleeping with Fabious’ virginal bride as a means of birthing a deadly dragon. As Fabious and Thadeous embark on their quest they bond with each other as well as meet a beautiful warrior woman named Isabel (Natalie Portman) also bent on destroying Leezar.
When you get right down to it Your Highness is crude, absurd, irreverent fun with a dash of wizardry thrown in! The movie has its faults sure, but you’ll laugh enough to cover them up. The medieval story is the main focus of the film despite being marketed as a stoner comedy and it seems Green really knows his stuff. The movie borrows quite a bit from similar medieval tales and has all that’s needed in these movies: quests, sword fights, labyrinths and a Minotaur to boot! The jokes are funnier because of the cursing but it’s also because their told with complete seriousness, mostly the jokes told by Portman or Franco. The special effects are also surprisingly strong in a film like this, especially the Minotaur and labyrinth sequences but their combined with gorgeous scenery for the location filming. It might not seem like there’s a whole lot to recommend this movie but if you enjoy humor, especially humor punctuated by empire waist dresses and a lot of cursing, then Your Highness is for you.
The acting, for the most part, is hilarious especially from Franco, Portman and Rasmus Hardiker as Thadeous’ squire Courtney. Franco is great as the naïve Fabious, the typical hero with his long flowing locks. It’s not the strongest role for Franco, a stronger version of Saul from Pineapple Express, but he’s the lynchpin for the film. Oscar winner Natalie Portman is the scene-stealer as the strong Isabel. You’ll definitely be taken aback to hear the starlet drop some really vulgar dialogue but it works due to how she says it with such conviction. Hardiker steals every scene he’s in and seems to have studied a lot of Monty Python considering how on par his performance is. Courtney is the poor character who is seen as expendable by everyone else and his one-liners are great. Theroux and Zooey Deschanel have some great riffs off each other as the evil Leezar and his captive Belladonna.
As mentioned above if you don’t enjoy stupid, crass humor you’ll be bored to tears. The jokes really only work because of the swearing and it’s hard to remember specific one-liners considering how similar they all sounded. A big negative though is our star, Danny McBride, as the stupid Thadeous. McBride is not able to walk the line between abrasive/humorous and annoying so he jumps feet first into both modes. His character isn’t funny, romantic, or engaging consistently throughout the film so for the most part you’re watching Hardiker’s character or waiting for Franco or Portman to arrive. There are some people who truly think McBride is hilarious but I personally saw in this movie how unfunny he is when given free reign on a film.
Your Highness isn’t the best comedy of the year, but for what it is the humor works and the acting is solid. If you don’t like Green’s past directorial efforts or if you find McBride’s humor to be way too much then wait for DVD. Overall Your Highness is a worthy effort and enjoyable for what it is.