A sword and sorcery affair from the director of Pineapple Express starring James Franco, Danny McBride, Justin Theroux, Zooey Deschanel, Natalie Portman and a host of other familiar faces that features some decent CGI as well as some old-fashioned puppets. And lots of swearing. Your Highness will be a divisive movie and it doesn’t really matter what reviews tell you – you’ll either love it or hate it. I was in the latter camp.
Danny McBride is Prince Thadeous, a layabout who is constantly living his life in the shadow of his heroic brother, Prince Fabious (James Franco). But when the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux) steals the woman that Fabious was about to marry (Zooey Deschanel) it means that a quest must be undertaken. A quest that Thadeous is ordered to go along with by his father (Charles Dance). There will be many dangers ahead – pervy wizards, deadly but attractive women, man-eating beasts and the sheer stupidity of Thadeous – but hopefully the two princes can succeed.
Your Highness is a very frustrating film. A comedy fantasy flick that just doesn’t have the required laughs but does come close, in one or two set-pieces, to having some great action. A fight sequence set on a feeling horse-drawn carriage is enjoyably swashbuckling . . . . . . . . . . . . . but then its soon back to the “hilarious” profanity. Im far from prudish, as those who know my viewing choices will already know, but comedy derived purely from swearing is not big, clever or funny.
Natalie Portman comes into the movie a bit late in the day but lights up the screen, and gamely goes along with the joke, but the only really entertaining character is the evil wizard, played with scene-stealing relish by Justin Theroux. I like Franco a lot and I quite like McBride but my goodwill can only go so far. Zooey Deschanel doesn’t get a lot to do but I enjoyed the screentime for Toby Jones and it was good to see the fantastic Damian Lewis back onscreen, even if the movie didn’t deserve his talent. Rasmus Hardiker also comes out of the whole thing quite well, playing Courtey, manservant to the imbecilic Thadeous.
Written by McBride and Ben Best, the dialogue is largely improvised and often shows. There are one or two funny lines but the large number of misfires heavily outweighs the good stuff.
David Gordon Green handles things well enough, using some deliberately cheesy practical effects as well as some genuinely superb CGI, but his biggest failing is his faith in those involved to spin gold from improvisations that consist of nothing more than couching crude insults in ye olde worlde style. It gets a slightly generous rating from me because of a few decent moments and my liking of almost everyone involved.
Verily I say to thee: this one doth not be deserving of your time on thine box of magic.
Your Highness is magically transferred on to discs of shiny material on 8th August.
DIRECTOR: DAVID GORDON GREEN
STARS: DANNY MCBRIDE, JAMES FRANCO, JUSTIN THEROUX, RASMUS HARDIKER, ZOOEY DESCHANEL, NATALIE PORTMAN
RUNTIME: 102 MINS APPROX