Once upon a time – in a land far, far away, where two moons existed instead of one and wizard weed ruled supreme – two men decided to embark on a journey to design a comedic fantasy film.
Along the way, they managed to pick up prestigious Hollywood actors such as James Franco (“127 Hours”) and Natalie Portman (“No Strings Attached”) who, when immersed in a sea of vulgarity, truly begin to shine. Add to that the wispy looks of one Zooey Deschanel (“Our Idiot Brother”) and a wig-wearing, makeup-covered Justin Thereux (“Megamind”), and the created film can either be a potent success or drowning failure.
Luckily for Danny McBride (“Due Date”) and co-writer Ben Best (“Eastbound & Down”), “Your Highness” marks an interesting addition to both comedy and fantasy realms with humor like-minded creatures can appreciate. By no means is “Your Highness” going to be an appealing film to all audiences, but as far as college-age individuals are concerned, the film is gold.
Enter Thadeous (McBride), an overlooked brother who chooses to spend his life enjoying the comforts of loose women and wizard weed. Contrastingly, Fabious (Franco) lives a life of adventure, battling dragons and the like.
After Fabious returns from another duel with the evil wizard, Leezar (Thereux), preparations begin for Fabious’ wedding to the virginal Belladonna (Deschanel). Unfortunately for Fabious, Leezar crashes the wedding, stealing Belladonna with the intent of raping her and impregnating her with a dragon baby, when the two moons become one – an event referred to as “The Fuckening.”
Enraged, Fabious must now begin a quest to save his bride-to-be. The king, tired of Thadeous’ behavior, gives him the option of either helping Fabious or getting cut off from the kingdom. Hence, the two brothers begin their bromantic journey.
Along the way they meet a woman on her own quest, the Amazonian-inspired Isabel (Portman) – whom Thadeous then tries to woo – a randy minotaur, a puppet wizard and a snake-headed beast. The conflict is much greater than Fabious being devoid a fianc?e, however, as the Dark Ages will begin, pending the quest’s failure. Eventually, the outcome of the journey rests on the shoulders of Thadeous, who must choose between his old life and that of a hero.
One of the strongest points of “Your Highness” is how grounded in its fantasy world the film is. If all the comedic elements were taken out, the story would still stand on its own. The fantasy elements to the quest are as realistic as any fantasy can be. The armor and weaponry used throughout could be found in any serious Middle Ages flick and the techniques used during fights are legitimate as well. Each mystical creature encountered is also a strength, which is a feat when taking into account the different effects used.
More than the surrounding world itself, the underlying story is also strong enough to make a separate film. Instead of becoming a spoof of old fantasy flicks, McBride and Best took certain aspects from ’80s films and brought them into the 21st century. While movies such as “Krull” or “Beastmaster” are humorous in their respects, especially when compared to the quality produced in films today, the humor in “Your Highness” comes from each situation itself and the ensuing dialogue.
While the script holds the comedy together for the most part, director David Gordon Green’s (“Pineapple Express”) use of improvisation is as much a benefit as a downfall. The acting is tight throughout the piece, and improv’s way of making actors stay on their feet is evident through this.
The dialogue, on the other hand, could have used some extra work. Most of the jokes revolve around the themes of sex and drugs, in as crude and profanity-filled a manner as possible. For certain audiences, it is easy to see this film becoming offensive. On top of this, while there are certain moments where the jokes shine, there are also quite a few where they fall flat – as in, the audience sees why they are funny but cringes instead.
For those without a dirtier sense of humor or who are easily offended, this is not the film to see. For lovers of “Pineapple Express” or other R-rated comedies, “Your Highness” is definitely worth the money, as it embodies these films on crack and set in its own acid-induced world.
3 out of 5 stars.