Your Highness (2011)

Film review: Your Highness (2011), directed by David Gordon Green, written by Danny McBride & Ben Best

Some time early last year, I came across a trailer to a film that looked to be rather funny. “We should see that when it comes out,” we said to ourselves, and then forgot all about it. In the summer, coming across the name, I thought “oh yeah, when’s that coming out?” Err, a month or so ago, and it had already left the cinema screens. Maybe should’ve taken that as a hint, but alas, we went and rented it.

Your Highness is a fantasy quest comedy. There is a land ruled by King Tallious (Charles Dance). The king has two sons: the questing hero and all around awesome Fabious (James Franco) and his brother, Thadeous (Danny McBride), who prefers wine and wenches to dragonslaying.

When Fabious comes back from a quest with the fair maiden Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), whom he’s set to marry forthwith, it’s not long before the evil sorceror Leezar (Justin Theroux) interrupts the proceedings by kidnapping her. Off on another quest it is! Maybe this time Thadeous can show his father that he’s not just a big waste of space, but a hero after all. A man is not a man if he’s not been on a proper quest, and the king needs his princes to be men if they are to succeed him on the throne. So off they go …

Also starring: Natalie Portman as Isabel (a female who has taken up weapons to avenge the slaying of her family), Rasmus Hardiker as Courtney, Toby Jones as Julie, Damian Lewis as Boremont, and – to my surprise and delight – Simon Farnaby (Horrible Histories) as Manious the Bold, one of Boremont’s henchmen. Farnaby’s fellow horrible historian Ben Willbond also has a brief appearance as a ranger in a pub. Had there been another one, I would’ve exclaimed “BINGO!” for sure.

They visit a paedophile wizard seer (squicky), an exceedingly camp baby-man (silly), get butt-raped by a minotaur (yes, really – it’s funny, you see), crack a gazillion masturbation jokes (groan) and try to stop Leezar from taking Belladonna’s virginity (yawn?). If that’s your level of humour, and/or you’re stoned out of your mind, you’ll love this film. If, on the other hand, you have standards and expected something a bit … well, better … it’s going to suck donkeyballs. (I know that’s normally not the sort of language I tend to use here, but it goes with the general theme of the film. You have been warned.)

I’m not sure what more to add. The costumes are nice, the scenery good, the actors look like they’re enjoying themselves, but the comedy aspect is abysmal. It wrenched a few smiles from us on occasion, and I was thinking it’s a girl’s thing … but I didn’t hear any hearty guffaws, gentle giggle or just plain laughter from the Squeeze either. I’m sure if you’re an immature teenage boy, the film is hilarious. To the rest of us, who enjoy a good comedy now and then, it’s an hour and a half (give or take) of knob gags.

There is a lack of female roles in the film, because Belladonna sure doesn’t get to say much, she’s just there to be the damsel in distress, and the camp baby-man’s harem doesn’t count. There’s Leezar’s crone of a mother, and aside from that, basically just Isabel. She, on the other hand, packs a punch and won’t be just The Hot Girl Who Tags Along – she gets to talk, be smart and be action girl. Good for her.

Crazy-haired Farnaby (yes, that’s his real hair!), who I rejoiced when seeing, is another one who doesn’t get to say much. When I saw it was him, I wondered how much space he’d be given, and it turned out to be “very little”. More than the other goons, okay, but still not more than a handful of lines, even though he gets quite a lot of screen time … in the background. When I then recognised Ben Willbond, it was a short-lived excitement. He has one line – of about three words (along the lines of “be seeing you”) – and is on screen in two glances. It’s about five seconds in total, at best, and each time, only just enough time to register it’s him before the camera moves away again.

Anyway, in a film with so many well-known names and faces, I’m surprised it wasn’t better. I like a good medieval fantasy film, don’t mind quests, and I do like a comedy – but when the comedy comprises of the two princes giving a puppet a blowjob (with one of the princes having granted the same character sexual favours since childhood …), wearing a minotaur penis around your neck as a trophy and saying four letter words (“fuck”, mostly) a lot … I don’t think it’s brilliant, and I don’t think it’s clever and I certainly don’t think it’s funny, just tasteless. Heck, I much preferred Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, and that wasn’t exactly a brilliant piece of fantasy comedy either.

No, it’s only getting a 1.2 out of 5 apocalypses.

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