Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity, violence and some drug use, 102 minutes
Sloppy medieval stoner comedy "Your Highness" hit-or-miss
"Your Highness" isn't as bad as you think, but it's still not that great. Silly, sloppy and far too long and busy, it's like "Lord of the Rings" as told by Peter Griffin and enacted by Stewie. Admittedly, there are a handful of guilty-pleasure gags and the cast performs well with the improvised dialogue, but it tries too hard (i.e. loads of unnecessary special effects and creatures among other things), as if to overcompensate for the slack, somewhat misogynistic material.
The story concerns two medieval brothers, Fabious (James Franco) and Thadeous (Danny McBride) who have a good life. Fabious rescues a fair maiden named Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), only to have her kidnapped again by the evil magical Leezar (Justin Theroux). On their quest to save her, they meet up with a tough, hot chick named Isabel (Natalie Portman), who's on her own personal quest to kill Leezar. "Your Highness" is a mildly entertaining, but a mediocre, one-joke premise of a film stretched out too long and on a bigger budget than most in this genre. It's still a buddy-buddy stoner flick comedy, just set long, long ago.
David Gordon Green, who directed both Franco and McBride in 2008's "Pineapple Express" and also works with McBride on the funny HBO series "Eastbound and Down," seems a good fit for the material, what there is of it. McBride, also an executive producer, is credited with co-writing the script, but all the dialogue and many scenes are improvised, which is a mixed bag. Some scenes work better than others (most anytime a creature is onscreen, it doesn't).
McBride is a genuinely funny comedian whose Southern drawl make things sound funnier than they really are, and his comic presence, along with the decent chemistry he has with Franco, faring far better than his recent Oscar hosting gig, is the film's highlight. The women fare worse, but it has certainly nothing to do with looks. The lovely Deschanel is woefully miscast and the toned Portman is underused,in a supporting role smaller than the trailers make it seem (she doesn't even appear until almost halfway through the film).
Throw in some expensive costumes, sets and some amped up, busy special effects and creatures, and it ends up a dizzying, somewhat bizarre mix of comedy and action. It's better than say "Year One" or "Land of the Lost," though in fact that's not saying much, and hopefully it will do better than those films.
The low brow "Your Highness" expects a lot of the audience and is strictly hit-or-miss with all the junk it throws at you. You'll laugh, you'll be offended, likely won't remember much of it after it's over.
Wes's Grade: C
Wes's Grade: C