Your Highness DVD Review

About ten minutes into David Gordon Green’s Your Highness, one overriding mystery to which I still cannot fathom the beginning of an answer began to cloud my mind.

Namely, how in the name of all that is good did this project’s creators and financiers convince such a collection of Hollywood players, screen legends, classical English actors and modern belle du jour’s to get on board with such a daft and seemingly worthless production?

Your Highness opens in the court of Medieval King Tallious, whose good for nothing disappointment of a son, Prince Thadeous, spends his days getting off his face and chasing skirt with like minded friends. His heroic elder brother, Prince Fabious (I know), returning home from another glorious quest, announces his betrothal to the beautiful Belladonna; a damsel in distress rescued from evil’s clutches during Fabious’ last mission. This news delights the king and piques the jealous anger of Thadeous, who wishes to be loved and respected like his brother.

So far, so Blackadder the First; only disappointingly sans Brian Blessed playing the King.

Alas, Belladonna is kidnapped on the day of her wedding to Fabious by the dastardly sorcerer Leezar, who helpfully announces his intention to imprison and then relieve her of her virginity at a pre-ordained time and venue. Lo and behold we have a plot on our hands.

A reluctant Thadeous, by order of his father, joins Fabious in a quest to rescue his maiden in an adventure where they are violated by a stoned wizard, imagine Yoda asking Luke Skywalker for sexual favours, imprisoned by a tribe of topless nymphomaniacs before fighting giant hand monsters and well-endowed minotaurs without underpants.

Not forgetting having a quick break to watch Natalie Portman take a bath.

Your Highness does rather dine out on the bones of every single joke it serves up, before killing, dismembering and dancing on the grave of it. And the fail safe comedy formula of juxtaposing medieval vernacular with 21st Century slang, swearing and popular culture does start to wear thin after a while. This isn’t to say that it’s without humour.

It is not your run of the mill comedy pastiche, but then neither is it your average medieval romp. The ensemble cast who wouldn’t look out of place in a Robert Altman opus collectively dumb down to take part in this slapstick take on the fantasy Arthurian-esque genre.

It wouldn’t have been at all surprising to see a goateed Sean Penn roll onto screen in cameo as a troubled prize fighting, gay, alcoholic, crippled, black, war hero delivering an angst filled academy award winning performance of a generation. Before eating a huge chicken leg and demanding copious amounts of mead from a suitably proportioned, adjacent wench.

I guess they had to draw the line somewhere.

Your Highness’ lead and co-writer Danny McBride, freshly graduated from the Will Ferrell School of Comedy, is amusing enough as the film’s anti hero and even Portman displays a hitherto unforeseen comic touch as a lone adventurer who teams up with the two princes along the way.

Aside from an appalling effort at an English accent, James Franco is impossible to dislike as the all-conquering Prince Fabious, reminiscent of an enthusiastic and loyal pet Labrador. Zooey Deschanel, her usual detached and kooky self as the ingénue bride to be, clearly enjoys competing for laughs with the boys. There’s a decent special-effects budget too, with a smartly animated and clever title sequence.

The impressive cast list, relishing the daftness they are surrounded by, supported by above average production values and Green’s direction which is more in homage than piss-take, all add up to make Your Highness something slightly more than the sum of its idiot parts.

Whilst in no way challenging and tending to default to the infantile and crude, Your Highness is a rather silly, often funny and instantly forgettable movie.

Frank Gardiner

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August 2011
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