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Your Highness(2011)

Posted

Pros: One of the funniest films in a long time with a lot of affection for 80's fantasy flicks

Cons: The opening animation over the beginning credits didnt really work

In the immortal words of Sidney Deane as played by Wesley Snipes in White Men Can’t Jump; ‘The sun even shines on a dogs ass some days…’. There I was minding my own business going to watch a man fire darts from his butthole and in 3D no less, when a kindly lady with a clipboard asks me if I wanted free tickets to a screening on Wednesday. Being the sort that never looks a gift horse in the mouth and seeing the title of said movie on the clipboard I said ‘of course my good lady, I will relieve you of the burden of your tickets’. My details were taken and I was all set to see Your Highness on Wednesday. You see this is the latest film from David Gordon Green, the arthouse director who turned his hand to comedy with Pineapple Express and stars Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel. I knew the premise and I couldn’t wait to see what they did with it.

The film begins with Prince Thadeus (McBride) in a dwarf village with his servant/sidekick Courtney, he has clearly upset the little people as he is about to be hanged. Due to a miscalculation about the length of the rope Thadeus and Courtney escape back to the kingdom where Thadeus’s brother Fabious (Franco) has returned from another successful quest after defeating the evil Leezar (Justin Theroux) and won the hand of his new bride to be Belladonna (Deschanel). The kingdom revels in Fabious’s success and once again the oafish Thadeus is pushed to the side, preferring instead to womanize and smoke wizard weed. At the happy couple’s wedding Leezar returns and kidnaps the virgin Belladonna with the intention of impregnating her with a dragon when the twin moons are aligned (or as Leezar politely refers to it ‘The Fuckening’). Fabious must once again go on a quest to rescue his beloved with his trusty band of knights. Thaddeus is given a choice; go on the quest with his brother and man up or get out of the kingdom. So Fabious and Thadeus set off on the quest where they will encounter a village of nude savage women, A wizard puppet who is also a possible pederast,huge mythical snake beasts, a horny minotaur and vengeful vixen Isabel (Portman). Thadeus must learn to be a hero, handle a sword and woo the fiery Isabel who is on a quest of her own.

Your Highness could have so easily become just another spoof along the lines of Epic Movie or Meet the Spartans but surprisingly just as the action was treated seriously in Pineapple Express, the fantasy elements here are just as important as the comedy. The special effects and production design are very impressive and the film certainly looks epic using the country of Ireland as its backdrop. There are evil witches firing lightning all over the place, there are mechanical beasts right out of the original Clash of the Titans and there is a weird hand/pit/monster thing that is cool as hell. Its also mega gory, limbs are hacked off and there is plenty of blood. Of course there is silly humor, very silly. If you didn’t get Green’s last comedy you may struggle here although Your Highness is probably the better film. This could well be the film that breaks Danny McBride into super stardom as he is the main star here. He delivers his lines in a pretty flawless English accent and the character is a classic spoiled loser who must learn to be a man. Just wait until you see the scene where he takes a trophy from a kill, its hilarious and gross. James Franco is being himself but also gets plenty of laughs jabbing away at the image of the handsome prince who writes poetry while also being handy with a sword. Portman is her usual brilliant self and for all her male fans there is a bathing scene that will get your temperature up. The main cast are supported by some more traditional thespian types. Toby Jones plays a creepy town crier type, Charles Dance is the king, Damian Lewis plays a treacherous knight and Justin Theroux nearly steals the whole thing as Leezar. Previously best known for smaller roles in David Lynch films and writing Tropic Thunder, Theroux is a comic revelation here delivering many of the films best lines with prosthetic teeth and a hideous wig. I laughed a lot and loudly and so did the packed audience. The script is written by McBride with his frequent collaborator Ben Best and clearly they have a lot of affection for the 1980’s fantasy movies they (and I) grew up with. Films like Krull, Clash of The Titans, Hawk the Slayer, Willow, Conan and Beastmaster are all wonderfully homaged and never poked fun at. It really could have died on its ass for being so ambitious but in the hands of a craftsman like David Gordon Green it works wonders.

If there is one complaint its that the credits sequence at the beginning doesn’t really work, it is wonderfully animated and fills a gap in the story but the dialogue was pretty inaudible throughout but this may just be because the sound mix has yet to be finalized. So when can you see this? Its currently due out next April but could be a tricky one to market, in a year where geek centric films like Scott Pilgrim have not fared well,a comedic fantasy that homage's nerd greats like the ones mentioned above could be something that Universal are not keen to throw their weight behind. I wouldn’t be surprised if after the Oscars and if Natalie Portman and James Franco have success (for Black Swan and 127 Hours respectively) then they become the focus of the marketing campaign. Even if it fails at the box office though its destined for some cult love on DVD. So you heard it here first, Your Highness is THE comedy of 2011! 

Posted

Pros: Imaginative, gruesome, amusing dialogue, structured

Cons: too raunchy, some missed opportunities, tonal shifts

Franco is the aptly-named Prince Fabious, golden boy of the Kingdom, slayer of beasts and recently engaged to a hottie. Danny McBride is his resentful, mopey brother who is often too stoned to complete any quests.  McBride can be a relentlessly childish lead, but Franco's infinite love and patience for him gives them a nice bromance and helps the audience along.

 

Franco's fiance is stolen by an evil wizard, and McBride must help recover her before the wizard can defile her with a ritual "fuckening" and bring evil into the world. It's pretty straightforward  from there. McBride reluctantly tags along and learns to make something of himself.

 

The dialogue has the rhythms of a genre piece but the sardonic meta-dialogue of today. I do not have an example right now but it is so. It's genreally amusing, frequently hysterical, and sometimes tiresome in the more rudimentary plot movements. Nevertheless, it's a good fit.

 

 Like "Pineapple," the look of the film is gritty and grounded look, creating somewhat jarring shifts in tone when it moves into straight action. I think when it comes to silly movies, we used to expect silly action. I think the video-game generation embraces the gritty and brutal whenever the opportunity for action arises, and it's something that Green is pushing for as well.

 

 

 Like "Pineapple Express," "Your Highness" is weed movie that delivers the goofy goods whilst gently reminding those viewers who partake to occasionally get off their asses and do something with their lives. I like that. I also like that Franco completes a "side quest" for McBride's errant lizard.

 

 

Some of it just doesn't work. I agree that the molestation, centaur humping, and severed-member bits are a little too obvious (that's fratboy-boozer humor, not benign stoner humor) but it didn't ruin everything for me. The guy who played the leader of the women tribe was also just terrible to behold and a missed opportunity for a cameo by someone funny (though his whole hand-in-the-magic-paint-bucket-controlling-a-hydra-headed snake creature was good bit of imagination) And before the centaur become an object of gross scorn, he was a fairly imposing prothestic/animatronic creation.)

 

Overall, it's worth watching. It's hard to imagine anyone in the target demo hating it outright.

 

Also: "Jumping!!!!"

 

Your Highness(2011)
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Description:

Throughout history, tales of chivalry have burnished the legends of brave, handsome knights who rescue fair damsels, slay dragons and conquer evil. But behind many a hero is a good-for-nothing younger brother trying just to stay out of the way of those dragons, evil and trouble in general. Danny McBride and James Franco team up for an epic comedy adventure set in a fantastical world-Your Highness. As two princes on a daring mission to save their land, they must rescue the heir apparent's fiancée before their kingdom is destroyed. Thadeous (McBride) has spent his life watching his perfect older brother Fabious (Franco) embark upon valiant journeys and win the hearts of his people. Tired of being passed over for adventure, adoration and the throne, he's settled for a life of wizard's weed, hard booze and easy maidens. But when Fabious' bride-to-be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), gets kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux)...

Details:
DetailValue
DirectorDavid Gordon Green
WritersDanny McBride,Ben Best
LanguageEnglish
CountryUSA
Runtime
Release Date8 April 2011 (USA) »
GenreAdventure
GenreComedy
GenreFantasy
Additional Information
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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