Your Highness (2011)

Directed by David Gordon Green
Written by Danny McBride & Ben Best

Imagine meeting the girl of your dreams, and then meeting the menacing wizard who has been prophesized to kidnap her and deflower her, therefore begetting a dragon child whom the evil wizard can control for his own mission to take over the world. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think? A little too ironic for our hero, the aptly named Prince Fabious, played by James Franco. Fabious is the heir to the throne and the hero of many quests, including the one on which he meets, and saves, the beautiful virgin Belladonna, played by Zooey Deschanel. Returning triumphantly with a bride in hand from his latest quest, he has the tables turned on him once more as the evil wizard, Leezar (Justin Theroux), seeks to fulfill the prophesy foretold earlier.

So Fabious, who knows what a prince and lover ought to be, sets out on yet another epic quest, but this time he has an extra companion: his slacker, pothead younger brother Prince Thadeous, played by co-writer Danny McBride. Intent on outdoing his great brother, whom he secretly admires, Thadeous joins his first quest in hopes of fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming king. Many twists occur along the way to the dark tower which imprisons the beloved Belladonna, including picking up a fellow quester, who happens to be a woman. Isabel, played by Academy Award winning actress Natalie Portman, has a mission of her own, but it seems to have a lot to do with our two princes.

This is not your traditional quest story however. No. There is a mix of the medieval time period with strange wizards and warlocks, including an alien looking wise wizard, who is probably a pervert, whom Fabious makes a point of visiting before every quest. There are mythical creatures and even the use of contemporary vulgarities. With so many oddities thrown together by director David Gordon Green, it is a wonder that a movie was able to come together at all. But the focus here is clearly on the comedy of the film as opposed to being concerned with telling any deep narrative. Just enough time is spent getting to know each character and their situations to make it passable, but as a comedy film, the plot is rather typical, oddities aside.

Part of what makes the film work is the performances. First and foremost the great evil villain, Leezar, played with great comedic timing and delivery by Justin Theroux. James Franco’s overly serious turn as Prince Fabious works wonders for his character as well. The others are good in their roles as well. But what makes the film not work is its insistence on vulgarity and immaturity in its humor. Some is acceptable, perhaps even encouraged for a film such as this, but Green often times went too far, beating the proverbial dead horse. The film has laughs throughout, though for some they may be just chuckles.

The audience is left thinking about, talking about and remembering the vulgarity and immaturity, leaving them to forget anything about the story or laughter. The shock value trumps the laughter, or any other merits of value the film may have. But for fans of such comedy, Your Highness should prove noble in its quest. For those who do not approve, seek your knighthood and quest elsewhere.

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