Published Apr 07, 2011Initial reactions to the trailer raised concerns that Your Highness would rely simply on the effusive use of disjointed curse words as punch lines. Co-written by star Danny McBride and his Eastbound & Down and Foot Fist Way cohort Ben Best, David Gordon Green's second foray into '80s genre parody is a much more depraved beast, but is less satirically realized than Pineapple Express.
Traditional storybook fantasy narration opens the picture, quickly making light of the tropes of the genre while introducing their bearing on this story. An ancient ritual involving the alignment of moons, a virgin damsel, an evil wizard and unsanctioned procreation has been prevented throughout generations, the threat rising again during the time of Fabious and Thadeous. That's James Franco and Danny McBride as royal brethren, comfortably settling into their respective archetypical roles of noble hero and lazy lout.
Pouting about being seen as the joke that he is, Thadeous ditches his duties as best man for Fabious's wedding to the lovely Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) to get stoned. While Thadeous is baked out of his tree chasing sheep, the wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux) crashes the wedding, snatching the bride in a hail of F-bombs and magical FX bolts that ably straddles the cheesy/cool divide.
That line is pretty much where Your Highness tries to live, in terms of appearance. The shots are sweeping when needed and the overall effects work and art design are high quality, but still cartoonish and unconcerned with realism, save in the service of jokes (such as the anatomically correct make up of an aroused minotaur). Unfortunately, the close-up action sequences aren't that well choreographed, resulting in occasional lacklustre shot clarity.
Thadeous is forced into his first hero's journey with his brother and their quest hits upon all the clichés you'd expect, but takes perverse pleasure in subverting the feigned innocence of the genre's values by laying bare its sinister underpinnings. Natalie Portman doesn't appear until about the halfway mark, but when she does, Green uses her dramatic chops effectively by positioning her as the straight (wo)man amidst the boundless silliness.
Your Highness doesn't amount to more than the sum of its parts, but some of its parts, especially those revelling in shockingly frank depravity, make it hedonistic fun for your inner adolescent. (Universal)