Directed by David Gordon Green
Staring Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman
Release date: April 8, 2011
Your Highness is the new movie from the people that brought you Pineapple Express, a movie that mixed stoner comedy with an ’80s action movie with some success. Your Highness looks to do take a stoner comedy and mix it with a Lord of the Rings-style fantasy. I was getting my hopes up before seeing Your Highness, mostly because I like Danny McBride and because I liked what I saw in the commercials. Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly live up to my expectations, which doesn’t make it a bad movie, it just means it left me a little disappointed, and I think a lot of people will feel the same way.
Your Highness is the story of two brothers, Fabious (James Franco) and Thadeous (Danny McBride). Fabious is the successful brother and future king of the land. Thadeous is a screw-up who doesn’t want to do anything except spend his nights with wenches and weed. When Fabious’ fiancÃ©e Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) is kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux), the two brothers must go on a quest to rescue her. They are joined by Thadeous’ squire, Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker), and are later joined by Isabel (Natalie Portman), another adventurer with a grudge against Leezar. Their quest is filled with monsters, betrayal, and a little bit of drug use, before their final confrontation with the wizard.
I only have one real complaint about Your Highness and the complaint is I wasn’t laughing as much as I wanted to while it was playing. There are plenty of good performances and some very charming moments, but I just wasn’t laughing that much, which is kind of the point of a comedy. I think the biggest problem Your Highness suffers from is a case of “all the funny jokes are in the trailer” syndrome. Your Highness was pretty widely advertised, and while those ads made me think this would be a funny movie, they also showed me most of the funny moments. I can’t blame the movie for that and if you haven’t seen that many commercials for it, the jokes will come off as a bit fresher than they did for me. But if you’re like me, you’ve seen a lot of commercials, and that’s going to change this from a must-see at the theater to a rental. Also, for a movie that advertised itself as a “stoner” comedy, there’s not really that many weed jokes.
There are some decent performances, and if you discount the comedy moments, what you’re left with is a fairly decent fantasy movie. James Franco turns in a nice performance as the dashing hero Fabious and plays the role of straight-man to a T, while still getting in a few of his own jokes. Natalie Portman also does a great job in her role, but she doesn’t really have a lot of jokes herself. That’s the weird thing about Your Highness: there are a lot of straight-men running around, and not a lot of comedians. Danny McBride carries most of the comedy himself (although Justin Theroux gets in a few jokes himself as the evil wizard) and your enjoyment of the movie is largely going to depend on how much you like him. If you’re a fan of McBride, this will be worth checking out, but it’s a pass if you’re not a fan.
The action elements are decent enough and the story doesn’t drag, and I never found myself waiting for the movie to end. The directing by David Gordon Green is nothing amazing, but it gets the job done for the most part. The action scenes aren’t amazing, but I didn’t get lost in them. The visual elements set up the world and the fantasy elements look like any other movie that are trying to tell a regular story. A lot of the monsters are done as practical effects, which I always like to see. There is one scene with a puppet, and the puppet doesn’t look that great, but that was clearly intentional. All in all, I thought Your Highness was well shot, but like everything else about it, there was nothing to knock my socks off about it.
Your Highness, more than anything, is a decent fantasy movie with some humorous moments. The story moves and I liked the characters enough, but I just wanted more from the comedy. There are good lines here and there, but nothing about it really stood out for me, certainly not as much as I was hoping for. Sometimes expectations can affect how you feel about a movie, and I was definitely let down by Your Highness. Is it worth your time? I don’t think so. It will be worth a rental once it hits DVD, but I wouldn’t rush out to the theaters to see it. I’m giving it a 3 out of 5. Now, let’s quest!