Movie Review: Acts of Regression in “Your Highness”

Your Highness. Here we go. (Doesn’t it seem like I’ve been getting the love/hate movies lately? All the controversy! Yikes!) The stoner movie is nothing new, being pretty common even since Reefer Madness. There will always be trippy movies for people to toke up to, but lately, the stoner movie has blended with the mainstream comedy. Now, we’ve got this stoner-comedy genre that is very unstable. David Gordon Green, while having a fair amount of films before it, seems to be most known for Pineapple Express. If you add Your Highness on top of that, it makes Green into the go to  stoner-comedy director. While many people will see this simply on principle because of Pineapple Express, is it going to be the comedy that they expect?

The plot of your highness is fairly simple: Prince Fabious (James Franco) comes home from a quest with a new bride-to-be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel). Shockingly enough, before they are wed, she is stolen away by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux)! So, Fabious and his bumbling, lazy, pot-head brother, Thadeous (Danny McBride), go on a mighty quest to rescue Belladonna and to kill Leezar. Throughout their quest, they face a labyrinth, magical monsters, bandits, giant baby men and betrayal. This story goes hand-in-hand with cliche fantasy movie plots, which plays into the humor perfectly. The nostalgia factor is pretty high throughout Your Highness, keeping you smiling by reminding you of the terrible fantasy movies and shows of your childhood.

This movie is raunchy and somewhat childish. Seriously, I took my father to see the screening with and I can’t tell you how uncomfortable that is. If Pineapple Express was the mainstream hit, Your Highness is the estranged 14 year old cousin of it. I mean, from dialogue to gestures, plot themes to events, Your  Highness cranks their vulgarity to eleven. While there are plenty of references to Pineapple Express, it doesn’t share the quick dialogue humor or the maturity of it. Speaking of Pineapple Express references, Your Highness mirrors it with many subtle jokes and character choices. Honestly, those were the only things subtle about this movie. Also, I hope you’re brushed up on your Scarface and Goodfellas, because Your Highness beats the F-word like a dead horse. At first, interjecting modern language into the Old English was funny and even a little endearing. After the lengthy run time goes by, it has lost most of it’s charm and become more normal than silly. Obviously, this movie isn’t for everyone. There will be endless amounts of people who will point their fingers and scream, “Immature, Idiotic, Waste of time!” I still disagree with them, because I was laughing throughout the entire film. The target audience isn’t going to be the sophisticated forty-five year old white male, but it is obviously geared towards a young male audience. Sure, not every joke hits like they wanted to, but Your Highness was able to produce more laughs than sighs from a majority of the audience. I guess that will be setting myself apart from the rest of the critics, because I didn’t see this movie as a big piece of shit. I’m not afraid to say that I liked something.

Most people must have been surprised by the names that Green was able to get into this movie, with Natalie Portman and James Franco both recently being up for Oscars. Yup, they went from Oscar worthy performances to Your Highness. Honestly, I think it helped the movie. I liked that these big names were able not to take themselves so damn seriously. People get so stuck up about being A-list, it’s refreshing to see actors and actresses do a movie that is obviously just for fun. It’s hard to judge a performance from this movie, simply because you can tell that it wasn’t made to be serious. Anything with a pot smoking old puppet as a main plot point and most of the dialogue being improvised is clearly not shooting for The Oscars 2012. Danny McBride was very funny in the role of Thadeous, complimented by his devout servant/squire Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker).  Really, everyone carried their weight for representing their characters. James Franco was genuinely hilarious as the perfect, yet completely homoerotic “better brother”; Natalie Portman was believable  in her role as the revenge-driven survivor, but still able to be funny. Zooey Deschanel didn’t have a massive amount of screen time during the film, but her scenes were no less funny. The dialogue between Deschanel and Theroux was so terribly uncomfortable and awkward, it easily fit into The Office style awkward humor. A lot of this movie contained the kind of humor that made you want to cover your face in embarrassment.

Surprisingly enough, the special effects in this movie were great. Whether it was a giant hand snake, minotaur or little pixies, Your Highness was clearly not lacking in budget. This really helped keep you in the fantasy movie feel, instead of entirely viewing this as a comedy. Also, the audio was never zany or wacky, but kept a serious fantasy sound to them. Really, it’s like they tricked every aspect of the movie into thinking it was a fantasy, while the dialogue and characters were all clearly comedy.

I know that I’ll probably catch shit for this, but I did think that Your Highness was funny enough to warrant, at least, one viewing. I mean, every time I see the trailers on television, I end up snickering and feeling ashamed because it really was funny. I know that all of the other critics are going to shoot this movie down, but I’m telling you that Your Highness is nowhere near as bad as people will make it out to be. It isn’t Citizen Kane, it is a pot movie. If you go in knowing this, you might be able to relax and see the humor in it, like I did. Also, being in an altered state of consciousness couldn’t hurt…just saying.

I give Your Highness 3.5“Creepy Muppets” out of 5

By Blake Edwards

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