Your Highness, set in the medieval days of knights, dragons and sorcerers tells the story of two brothers. Fabious (James Franco) is the quintessential debonair prince, prone to victory in innumerable death-defying quests and feats. His brother Thadeous (Danny McBride) is an out-of-shape, lazy slob who excels at toking herb and chasing sheep. But when Fabious’ bride-to-be Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) is kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux), Fabious sets out on a mission to rescue her. And by order of their father (Charles Dance), Thadeous is told he must help his brother on his quest. My review of the DVD after the jump.
On paper, this movie has so much going for it. Danny McBride’s comedy, crazy action, hordes of topless women, drugs-in-Medieval times humor, a Minotaur as ferocious as he is horny, Natalie Portman in a thong… and yet as a whole, Your Highness never quite reaches the peaks it sets out to. The whole thing ultimately plays like one blue, bawdy joke more interested in maintaining its action and gore factor than its laughs. The R rating for the film (included on the DVD, along with the unrated version) is earned as much for its violence as its nudity. That’s not to say Your Highness isn’t funny; it is. The chemistry between the actors is stellar and a number of the gags land well. McBride plays the character he plays best (yet again), which is to say an incarnation of his Footfist Way and Eastbound and Down roles. To some of us, his version of the idiot manchild never gets old.
For a comedy, the film has a great number of action set-pieces (a cage match with some kind of nasty-looking fanged hydra, elaborate chases, a labyrinth that houses a randy minotaur and a lightning-riddled grand finale, just to name a few) that leave the movie more confused than anything else; it has no idea what it is. Your Highness hits high points of silliness (e.g. Thadeous’ chronic masturbation tendencies, and a mechanical old-school Clash of the Titans-type bird named Simon) and then is punctuated by moments of extreme violence (an arrow fired through the jugular, anyone?). At times, the movie feels like it’s two different entities, and in the end, neither seems to win.
The DVD is stocked with a bevy of extras – deleted scenes, alternate takes, a gag reel, a behind the scenes featurette (which with its half hour running time, runs longer than most) and commentary. The deleted scenes and alternate takes are largely forgettable, but the standout supplemental – for fans of the film, at least – is the commentary, which features McBride, Franco, Theroux and director David Gordon Green. Their remarks vacillate between amusing anecdotes on set to insightful stories about the movie’s inception and production.
Your Highness is a matter of taste. Some will find the film funny, others not so much. The picture is unapologetic in its graphic depictions of violence, brazen (and intentionally anachronistic) usage of obscenity and abundant displays of skin. Those not down with such elements of cinema had best steer clear.