Your Highness (2011; Unrated Version) – Directed by David Gordon Green – Starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Justin Theroux, Zooey Deschanel, Toby Jones, Rasmus Hardiker, Charles Dance, and Damian Lewis.
It would be wrong to say that YOUR HIGHNESS is disappointing because, as it so clearly advertises, it’s made by the people who made Pineapple Express.
So it doesn’t really come as a surprise that YOUR HIGHNESS kind of sucks, too.
I mean, sure, I did once say that all I wanted out of modern cinema was to bear witness to a scene in which Natalie Portman played a panflute to draw the attention of a Minotaur with an erection, and that someone would then cut that erection off the minotaur, and later Zooey Deschanel would try to put said sliced erection in her mouth, so I’ll give YOUR HIGHNESS credit enough for that, but other than that sequence, this is a really dreadful film …
It’s a shame, too, because there’s a decent amount of talent assembled in the movie, and there is an honest attempt to both tell a story and deliver a real character arc for Thadeous (Danny McBride). McBride and James Franco (who plays his brother, Fabious) have some decent chemistry, and there’s nothing wrong with watching Portman and Deschanel romp around in period costumes for 100 minutes. I love the idea, too, of a raunchy medieval comedy, but while this film hits the first two fine, it fails in the third. YOUR HIGHNESS is just … not … funny.
No one in the movie acts like this is anything more than a high school play. It’s honestly one of the worst acted movies in recent memory, with all of the principals putting off that ridiculous vibe of, “Hey! We’re making a comedy here! Aren’t we being silly? Aren’t we saying dirty things?” Watching YOUR HIGHNESS is like watching an extended SNL skit where the actors are purposely being stupid with their performances and looking off-camera for their lines. McBride, Franco, Portman, and Justin Theroux all completely overact – I get that this is the point since everyone is doing it, but it’s just not that funny and it just doesn’t work.
In fact, this is one of those movies that is so bad that watching the Gag Reel is infinitely more rewarding than watching the actual movie.
I’m sure these folks had a grand old time making the movie (it’s obvious from the bonus features), so it’s perhaps doubly unfortunate that so little of that humor made it into the actual film.
The premise here is that Fabious is the perfect son and perfect prince and perfect hero and Thadeous is the imperfect son and imperfect prince and imperfect hero. Fabious is about to marry Belladonna (Deschanel) when Leezar (Theroux) shows up and kidnaps her because he believes he’s the chosen one who is destined to impregnate a virgin and control a dragon. Fabious, of course, decides to go on a quest to rescue her, and Thadeous (who skipped the wedding because his feelings were hurt) is like, “Good luck,” but their father the King (the always good – even here – Charles Dance) makes him go along with them.
Soon into the quest, Fabious is betrayed by his men, forcing Thadeous and his squire Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker) into a more prominent role. So then … things happen. They join forces with the duplicitous Isabel (Portman) and there’s lots of sword fighting and killing and sexual jokes and Courtney getting raped by the aforementioned Minotaur. They save Belladonna, she and Fab get married, and Thadeous and Isabel go off to defeat an evil witch and get her chastity belt removed. For much of the time spent watching this movie, I had the feeling that this movie was made because McBride, Franco, and director David Gordon Green got roasted and thought it would be awesome to make a movie where they could get Portman and Deschanel to say as many naughty words as possible.
YOUR HIGHNESS is good for a few small laughs (there’s a musical bit in the film between Deschanel and Franco that works, and another in the Deleted Scenes that’s good, too), but in the end it’s just not very good because it’s just not very funny. The film would have been better served using the extended scenes included in the bonus features. There’s one with Portman and McBride and another with Deschanel and Theroux that are funnier than most of the gags in the film, but were cut, presumably because they go on too lon.
They don’t. The film does.