by Mel Valentin
Somewhere, in the bowels of a hypothetical movie studio (let’s say Universal Pictures), a hypothetical senior executive reviewed a hypothetical proposal for a sword-and-sorcery parody crossed with a stoner action-comedy and, despite all evidence to the contrary, gave said hypothetical proposal a greenlight. Unfortunately, there’s nothing hypothetical about "Your Highness," the medieval-fantasy, stoner action-comedy directed by David Gordon Green ("The Pineapple Express," "All the Real Girls," "George Washington"), a once-promising filmmaker, from a script co-written (and we use the word “co-written”) loosely by Danny McBride, the star of said medieval-fantasy, stoner action-comedy. Nothing less than a woeful, painful-to-sit-through misfire, "Your Highness" represents a career nadir for everyone involved, including McBride.In a semi-peaceable medieval kingdom (of something-or-other), Thadeous (Danny McBride), the second-born son to King Tallious (Charles Dance), is the zero to Tallious’ first born son, Fabious (James Franco), a hero (naturally). Thadeous is everything, handsome, athletic, and noble, that Thadeous isn’t. Thadeous is average-looking, unfit, and most definitely cowardly. Not one to wallow in his shortcomings, Thadeous takes the perks and privileges of rank seriously, exploiting his status as the spare to the heir (a.k.a. the second-born son of a king) to its hedonistic fullest, partaking of weed (pot or marijuana to you and me), drinking, and skirt-chasing to going on quests with his elder brother and vanquishing the kingdom’s random assortment of enemies, human or non-human.
"The 11th (or is it 12th?) must-miss comedy of the year."
Sent on a diplomatic mission to a dwarf kingdom by his father, the weak-willed Thadeous can’t keep his princely member inside his tights long enough to complete the seemingly straightforward task. Caught en flagrante with the dwarf king’s queen, Thadeous faces public execution at the end of a noose. Luckily for him, the dwarf king’s builders fail to take Thadeous’ height into account when they built the scaffold. Thadeous does what he does best: running away with his man-servant, Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker), none the wiser for the experience (that comes later, after a series of non-hilarious misadventures).
Your Highness’ loose plot doesn’t kick into low gear until Fabious returns from a recent quest with the virginal, vapid Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel, strictly eye candy) in tow as his new bride-to-be. Fabious saved Belladonna from the clutches of an evil wizard, Leezar (Justin Theroux). Leezar kidnapped Belladonna as an infant, kept her locked up Rapunzel-style in a high castle for decades (or more), fed and otherwise looked after her material needs if not her spiritual, emotional, or physical needs until the moons (yes, plural) aligned in a once-in-a-century phenomenon. When the moons align, a prophecy becomes active (or something), giving whoever beds Belladonna or similarly situated virgin the power to control the result of said union, a dragon (yes, you read that correctly). Leezar doesn’t take the kidnapping of his “bride” lightly, however, disrupting Fabious and Belladonna’s wedding day with the help of his mothers, setting up a quest to save Belladonna with Thadeous forced to join Fabious on his latest quest.
A revenge-obsessed warrior, Isabel (Natalie Portman), shown to maximum effect in a leather bikini on TV ads and trailers, eventually joins Fabious’ quest to save Belladonna, providing Thadeous with the obligatory romantic interest , but by then Your Highness has spent 40 or 45 minutes wasting time on puerile gags and McBride’s foul-mouthed character throwing the word “F-ck” into practically every sentence for supposedly humorous effect. It’s mildly amusing the first and second times, if only for the anachronism involved, but becomes quickly repetitious and tiresome, something neither McBride nor Gordon Green obviously understood (or cared to understand). Verbal humor, even of the crude, vulgar, and/or raunchy kind is forever after in short supply.With the exception of a mildly outrageous gag centered around a Wise Wizard (a character straight out of Peter Jackson’s "Meet the Feebles" R-rated Muppet parody) with questionable morals (to say the least) and, later, an encounter with a horny Minotaur, "Your Highness" stumbles along from one ill-conceived, listlessly executed gag-centered scene to another ill-conceived, listlessly executed gag-centered scene with McBride’s boorish character in practically every scene, a product, presumably, of McBride and Gordon Green’s approach to the script: They didn’t have a finished script when they started filming "Your Highness" in the summer of 2009 in Northern Ireland, instead relying on a loose structure, situations, and improvisation. How the result could be so consistently, unrelentingly unfunny is, alas, anyone’s guess.
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originally posted: 04/08/11 00:00:00