Directed by: David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express)
Starring: Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux
Don’t take that one star I’m giving—and quite generously I might add—Your Highness as an indication that the film in some way offended or disgusted me. I’ve certainly seen worse movies in my day, and it’s definitely a handsome-looking, professionally made film. That is, until it opens its mouth. Then, you get what may be the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen.
I’m not talking dumb in a way that insults me. Rather, it’s dumb in a way which astonishes me that it got made to begin with. Who thought mixing a fantasy film with Cheech and Chong was a good idea, let alone one worth sinking $50 million into? The fact that so much money was spent on a flick that was obviously written between bong hits is more infuriating and uncomfortable than anything that ended up on screen.
The movie is Danny McBride as Thadeous, an oafish prince, who lives in a medieval fantasy world peopled by wizards and such. His brother Fabious (James Franco) is much more heroic and dashing, and is even set to be married to a maiden (Zooey Deschanel) he’s just rescued—that is, until she’s kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux, Inland Empire).
So the two brothers set off on a quest to save the girl and win the day, like many fantasy stories of similar cloth, with one really big difference: The addition of offhand, smutty non sequiturs and jokes about getting stoned. But wait! Those jokes are also told in bad British accents! Plus, we all know Lord of the Rings was missing 15 minutes worth of jokes about a minotaur’s penis. Your Highness’ schtick is obviously funny to McBride, Franco and company, but there’s really nothing else of substance in the film. There’s never a deviation from these improvised Will Ferrell-isms, meaning you’ve really got to be impressed with the movie’s penchant for offhand randomness to enjoy it.
And its a pity, too, because the film has the makings of something more impressive. Tim Orr’s cinematography is often gorgeous, but for what? It’s like hanging the Mona Lisa in an outhouse. Even Danny McBride—who I find the most appealing in Up in the Air (2009), when he played a cardboard cutout—has a character who’s understandable and occasionally likable, but who’s completely undermined by the dumb jokes he’s slinging around (and for which McBride himself is responsible). Your Highness exists even less as a bad movie than it does as a monumentally—to the point of being fascinating—disaster of a stupid idea. Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity, violence and some drug use.