Your Highness: A Great Idea That Wears Thin Quickly

14 04 2011

Danny McBride gets his first major starring role in Your Highness, co-starring James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel and Justin Theroux. Here’s the breakdown:

Prince Thadeous (McBride) is a worthless stoner of a prince, especially when compared to his brother, the heroic Prince Fabious. But when Fabious’ bride-to-be, Belladonna (Deschanel) is abducted by the evil warlock Leezar (Theroux), both brothers must embark on a quest to rescue her. Along the way they must overcome many obstacles and meet many strangers, including the beautiful and mysterious traveler, Isabel (Portman).

The Monkey: At its core, Your Highness is a stoner-comedy-road-trip-buddy-film-raunch-fest…set in the Middles Ages. The juxtaposition is quite comical.

There were some genuinely funny moments; McBride is a talented comedian and his comic timing (especially with Rasmus Hardiker who plays Thadeous’ manservant, Courtney) is enjoyable and spot on.

A pleasant surprise: the special effects. From a five-headed serpent to a spectacular finale, Your Highness manages to pack blockbuster-like action into a genre typically devoid of such visuals. It was also nice to see Weta involved with the creature work: from perverted pot-smoking gremlin wise-men (don’t ask) to horny Minotaurs (no, seriously, don’t ask) Weta proves they are the go-to workshop for creature makeup, prosthetics and the like.

The Weasel: Unfortunately, the hilarious juxtaposition of modern, raunchy humor with the medieval setting wore out its welcome about ten minutes into the movie. Watching a character say the ‘f’ word with a horribly (albeit, purposefully) fake British accent is a gag that only worked once – yet, for some reason, was continuously played out throughout the entirety of the movie.

James Franco and Natalie Portman were clearly hired for their notoriety. Both coming off Oscar nominations (and a win), it’s rather dumbfounding to see them in a movie like Your Highness. They offer nothing that couldn’t have been accomplished by any other actor. It’s not that they were bad (except for Franco’s GOD AWFUL accent), it’s just that they were…meh. Zooey Deschanel is hardly even worth mentioning as her screen time amounted to, maybe, five minutes.

The biggest flaw with Your Highness was its reliance on a one-trick ploy: let’s tell dirty jokes with British accents and swords in our hands. It would have worked marvelously as a Funny Or Die short (especially given those shorts’ preponderance for featuring notable actors like Franco and Portman). But imagine your favorite online sketch comedy segment elongated into a painful hour and a half. SNL has tried this multiple times, and has been met, multiple times, with failure. Just because the characters are wearing amour and flailing swords doesn’t make the penis jokes any more original.

A great concept…that should have been kept to five minutes.

1.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Does Danny McBride have a future as a comedic leading man? Do you feel Your Highness would have worked better as a comedy sketch short? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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2 responses

14 04 2011
Some Guy

“James Franco and Natalie Portman were clearly hired for their notoriety.”

Or not. I believe this film was shot before either actor began work on their respective Oscar films. It seems like David Gordon Green is building a stable of regulars, which includes James Franco (see: Pineapple Express). And it seems like Natalie Portman can’t pass up a paycheck.

Either way, I’m glad you at least gave the film credit, unlike some reviewers, but I disagree with your conclusion. I think this movie was consistently funny from start to finish and was made with a tongue-in-cheek style that left me thoroughly entertained. I was probably biased going in, as the movie they made is exactly the movie I wanted to see. I can’t shake the feeling that most of the people bashing this movie were expecting something else or just don’t really like Danny McBride and Ben Best’s brand of humor (see: Eastbound and Down). For those who get it, this movie is a lot of fun. David Gordon Green is a terrifically gifted filmmaker, and this is as much evidence of that as anything he’s ever done.

Don’t ask me why I’m posting this comment here. This is the first time I’ve seen your blog. I just saw this last night at the drive-in and I’m mad about all the terrible reviews and needed to vent. Thanks!

Maybe I’ll go start my own blog so that I can defend this movie.

14 04 2011
Dustin

Welcome to your first time at Pop Goes the Culture! And thanks for the comment! Differing opinions are always welcome 🙂

I’m glad you liked the movie, and you are probably right about the brand of humor not being for everyone. And I agree that Portman and Franco probably did this movie before their Oscar buzz; however, they certainly had a notable body of work aside from ‘127 Hours’ and ‘Black Swan’ anyway.

How was the drive-in? I have one right by my house but never seem to make it out there – maybe I’ll have to try it out soon!

Thanks again for the comments and hope to hear you disagree (or even agree!) on some reviews in the future! 🙂

Side note: definitely start a blog – it’s fun!

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