Friday, April 8, 2011

Your Highness

Review by Pete Roche

The title of the new David Gordon Green comedy YOUR HIGHNESS may refer to either of King Tallious’ two sons simply because they’re princes—or because half the time they really are high on drink or drugs. Like John C. Reilly, potty joke-purveyor Danny McBride has played second fiddle to other frat-boy funnymen (Will Ferrell and Seth Rogen).  He’s also played with James Franco before (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS).  So if you crave crudity and crassness in your medieval adventures, McBride’s first shot at headlining is shamelessly successful.

McBride is Thaddious, slacker son of a king in an alternate-Camelot where two moons decorate the night sky. Thaddious likes to drink and make merry with dwarf women, but is pressed into service when the bride (Zooey Deschanel) of his handsome, heroic older brother Fabious (James Franco) is kidnapped by salacious warlock Leezar (Justin Theroux).  Unenthused, Thaddious hires an attendant with a bowl haircut to keep him entertained (and inebriated) on the quest.  He wants no part of a campaign whereon Fabious will once again outshine him with unerring poise, overcoming obstacles and felling foes en route to his quarry.

A sparkling magenta-colored wizard Muppet (with an affinity for marijuana and masturbation) tells the brothers they must locate an enchanted “unicorn sword” to defeat lecherous Leezar.  Thaddious is noncommittal to the adventure—and to Fabious—until their stalwart soldier-guides ditch them in the forest.  There, the cowardly crusader is distracted by the wiles of a naked tribeswoman.  The princes also encounter the beautiful Isabel (Natalie Portman), vengeful sister in a family of knights slain by Leezar’s minions.  Thaddious falls for her immediately—but the warrior-woman rebuffs his not-so-subtle advances.  Isabel also wards off a five-headed serpent in a Thunderdome-style combat cage and fights an aroused Minotaur in a labyrinth while Thaddious and his aide scream like schoolgirls. Sooner or later, the lesser prince has to swap his erection for a backbone. 

This lowbrow antidote to Tolkien majesty and idealism earns its R-rating with foul humor, bare breasts, and gratuitous violence (not that this prevented a few shouldn’t-be-parents from bringing toddlers to our screening).  But YOUR HIGHNESS maintains a brisk pace, and Green delivers credible action sequences between sexual innuendos.  He wisely trusts his actors to ad lib for comedic effect, resulting in archaic Arthurian accents peppered with today’s penis-centric profanity.  Dastardly and disgusting, Thoureaux gives McBride a run for the money in the gross-out department: Whoever loses, we win. 

Academy Award-Winner Portman and Oscar nominee Franco are superior to this juvenile junk—yet they have a blast onscreen.  Some of the landscapes—lush, woodsy, and green (it’s Ireland)—are as pretty as the female leads.  Nice costumes and props, too.  Look for the mechanical bird—a nod to Bubo the Owl from CLASH OF THE TITANS.  Parents, be warned.  I couldn’t impart more clearly the baseness of this humor if I drew you a picture (one character does just that).  But perverts, enjoy!  YOUR HIGHNESS is shallow and revolting—but f**king fun, and you’ll laugh despite yourself. 2 ½ out of 4 stars.

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