Directed by David Gordon Green
Screenplay by Danny McBride and Ben Best
Danny McBride as Thadeous
James Franco as Fabious
Natalie Portman as Isabel
Zooey Deschanel as Belladonna
Running time: 102 minutes
Motion Picture Rating: Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity, violence and some drug use.
One-half Star for Natalie Portman’s Bare Flanks and Fab Hair
For years, I have heard and filed away lavish praise of David Gordon Green as an inspired and clever filmmaker. Something told me not to believe it, and Your Highness proves what I suspected all along — that it was all a big hipster lie. Predators dashed my childish fanboy dreams. Paranormal Activity 2 instilled me with despondent boredom. Saw 3D unapologetically piled virtual intestines on my face. Never, though, have I felt as criminally sinned against as by Your Highness.
To call this movie a “stoner comedy,” as some people are doing, is an insult to stoners. For my part, I refused to get stoned before seeing it, as more than one person recommended. I doubt it would have helped. If only the makers of the film would publish something — perhaps as a DVD extra — describing how and why this film is supposed to be funny, perhaps more of us could be in on the joke.
What is this movie like? The best possible comparison could be Robin Hood: Men In Tights, but even Mel Brooks at his limpest is better than this. Your Highness treads closer to Transylmania or Vampires Suck! territory, and believe it or not I think both of those awful movies are funnier. A thin ray of promise shone down at the beginning, with a fairly cute animated opening sequence, which in a different context might call to mind John Cusack’s mischief in Better Off Dead. That, as it turns out, was the highlight of two long, grim hours of waiting for the funny.
Danny McBride and James Franco play two princes in a mythical kingdom, charged with rescuing Franco’s bride-to-be (Zooey Deschanel) from a perverted sorcerer (Justin Theroux). Making this humorous should be a no-brainer, right? Wrong, apparently. This is the kind of movie where instead of punchlines, every setup leads up to an anachronistic F-bomb or handjob joke. Ha freaking ha. And guess what? These guys do not have the magic Zucker Brothers touch of selling humor like that.
Riffing on sources as diverse as The Lord Of The Rings, Clash Of The Titans, Red Sonja, The Dark Crystal, Braveheart and more, Your Highness manages to be a successful parody of absolutely none of them. Shame on Zooey Deschanel, who may be a little too hip for her own good, but who seldom fails to charm and sparkle in quirky, offbeat roles. Even James Franco should know better than making movies like this.
Oh yes, and sweet Natalie Portman. You who played the chaste warrioress and object of desire for Danny McBride’s slovenly slacker prince. At least you have now played in a movie more excruciatingly lame than Attack Of The Clones. Kudos, however, for un-self-consciously playing it straight in a movie so snarkily self-aware that it feels no need to be genuinely entertaining. You are so beautiful that it is hard to stay mad at you. A generous helping of your bare legs and flanks — plus your absolutely fabulous hair! — earn this movie a half-star.
**NOTE: Those uninterested in Natalie Portman’s bare flanks and fab hair, please subtract one half-star from the overall rating of this film.
Forgive this pompous tirade, readers. It comes from the heart, which is its only excuse. Based on the director’s reputation, I presume that several of his other movies are better than this. However, it has closed my mind, for a while, to the prospect of giving him a second chance. I hated Your Highness so much that thinking about it twelve hours later, I still want to hit somebody. It may not inspire so much rage in others, but it is simply not funny or clever by any stretch. It is a categorical waste of even a one-dollar drugstore rental box fee, let alone what a cineplex intends to charge you for it on Friday night.