YOUR HIGHNESS Review

There is something strangely appealing about a stoner comedy told through the world of medieval knights, wizards, damsels and unearthly creatures. It is through the mind of Danny McBride that we are given this trip to a land of ole where his Prince Thadeous is able to go on a life-changing quest with his brother Fabious and make killing a minotaur into a dick joke. If you have seen anything McBride has worked on in the past you know his sense of humor, from his first feature "The Foot Fist Way" to his HBO series "Eastbound & Down" McBride is a comedic force and is at his best when playing the quick-witted asshole role he has perfected from Fred Simmons to Kenny Powers. In "Your Highness" he acts much the same, but with a slight air of an attempted accent that goes in and out depending on whether he's cursing or not. "Your Highness" sometimes relies to heavily on its vulgar tendencies without having the wit and charm of its humor that usually cushion the blow of repetitive F-bombs, but its scope and talented cast allow for it to remain on track and for the most part an enjoyable ride all the way through to its predictable conclusion.


Re-uniting after the superior "Pineapple Express" McBride and Franco are not as appealing a team here as we'd hoped they'd be. While "Express" allowed them to bounce off one another great lines and a relationship that was nothing short of genuine, here it seems they had more fun behind the camera than they do once the camera started rolling and they had to speak their lines. It is as if this were more an excuse to get together again rather than make a quality comedy. This is strange though, seeing as "Express" director David Gordon Green, who has also directed McBride in a few episodes of "Eastbound & Down" is at the helm here once again as well. Before the success of "Pineapple Express" Green was mainly known for small indie films, and was able to bring a strong sense of humanity to such a broad comedy, but here. all seems lost on the world the director and writer have chosen to explore. Green certainly delivers in terms of grand sets, costumes and special fx monsters, but when it comes down to it the audience for this film is not looking for those things, they are looking for something to laugh at, and what "Your Highness" brings to the table in terms of jokes feel as old and stale as the time period the films set in.

There is only so many ways you can say the F word and there are only so many sexual or bodily function jokes you can tell before they all begin to get old. Too bad McBride and long-time collaborator Ben Best didn't take this opportunity to spoof some of the traditions and staples of the time period they were in, replacing the old English language with the current vernacular of a college sophomore seemed to instead be the funnier route to them. While I will admit there are moments of greatness in the film, it truly isn't all bad, I am still reeling from what my expectations were to what the final product delivered. I certainly thought with the talents of Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux, and even Toby Jones not to mention Franco who should have made this more about the role rather than having a good time with his co-stars, that their had to be something truly fun and enticing about the script to make such credible actors want to be a part of this broad comedy. Instead Portman, while looking better than ever, delivers a half-hearted and stereotypical tough girl performance while Deschanel for all her appealing quirkiness is criminally under-used. Theroux has the best role in the film and some of the best lines and he seems to know it, making his evil wizard all the more cocky and entertaining than both Thadeous and Fabious combined. I would have much rather watched a movie centered around his Leezar than one note character McBride has concocted.

This is a shame really, I expected so much and know that there is probably a good movie to be made from this idea. That the people behind this film failed to live up to their expectations makes me all the more upset. I had pure trust that McBride would never let me down when it came to bringing the funny, but he has officially begun to seem stale. It is time to change-up the persona a little, it is time to put more effort into the characters you want to bring to the screen. This is one big missed opportunity, one that features an Oscar winner and nominee as well as one of the best comedy writers and a knowledgeable director. There is no excuse for this to be as incompetent as it was. Sadly, the audience can see more time and effort were put into the look of the film than the jokes in the script. We can see that the selling point of this film, its comedy, is also the laziest aspect of the whole thing. Did they really think we would be distracted by the lavish world they placed themselves in and get away with not being the least bit original in terms of comedy? There is funny vulgarity and then there is being vulgar with no intelligence behind the remarks to back it up. "Your Highness" is a brainless quest that looks great but elicits very little laughs.