STARRING Danny McBride, James Franco, Zooey Deschanel, Natalie Portman DIRECTED BY David Gordon Green SCREENPLAY Ben Best, Danny McBride MPAA RATING Rated R RUNNING TIME 102 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY Universal Pictures DVD EXTRAS
Damn You Gods: The Making of Your Highness
Feature Commentary with Video Intro by Director Gordon Green, Executive Producer/Co-Writer/Star Danny McBride and Stars James Franco & Justin Theroux
"Your Highness" Review
There's no question that when Danny McBride decided to salvage this script from his college days, he and his buddies from the North Carolina School of the Arts likely imagined a wondrously funny an irreverent production along the lines of a Monty Python flick or Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
Unfortunately, Your Highness is much closer to Krull or any number of other bad 70's and 80's faux period comedies than it is any of the comedy classics from Brooks or Monty Python. In the film, Thadeous (McBride) is the youngest son of the King (Charles Dance) whose elder brother (James Franco) is handsome, heroic and, well, everything that Thadeous is not. When his brother, Fabious, returns from yet another successful quest with a beautiful fiance' (Zooey Deschanel) only to see the beautiful virgin swooped away by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux) at the wedding that the oft-jealous Thadeous has chosen to skip, Thadeous and Fabious ride off together on a quest to save the kingdom, save love, save a mechanical bird ... yadda! yadda! yadda!
Along the way, the two brothers will endure a garden variety of homo-erotic heroic challenges that might've been funny and taboo in the 80's. Soon, the boys are joined by a master archer (Natalie Portman) on a mission of her own, which is either to shower off her finely shaped buns or, well, actually that seems to be her only mission.
While I'm certainly not one to scoff at friends choosing to work together, it's difficult to imagine that not a single soul among these "friends" had the gumption to stand up at some point and say "Um, guys. Maybe we should pick a better project."
Seriously, this thing is awful.
Director David Gordon Green has shown remarkable potential in the past, but with Your Highness he may very well have bottomed out with a film that serves up a painfully unfunny script, stilted and awkwardly unfunny acting, simply horrible choreography, just plain bad camera work and an original score that is actually painful on the ears.
Heck, even Krull had a decent original score.
Usually, I can manage to pick out a decent performance in a film or to shine a spotlight on some really awesome tech work. While Your Highness has enough modest chuckles to warrant actually passing, it's easily one of the worst films of easily 2011 and it would almost be surprising if the film doesn't earn a slew of Razzie Award nominations.
Danny McBride is at least convincing enough that it's easy to believe he sat at his computer typing this sucker up thinking to himself "Man, this shit is funny."
Danny, it's not.
It's not funny to try, unsuccessfully, to blend stoner humor with the medieval period. It's not funny to use the F-bomb 40-50 times for absolutely no reason in a medieval comedy. It's not funny to do cheap molestation humor. It's not funny...in fact, it's painful to have to watch a film try so hard to be so funny with so little payoff.
There's no doubt that Franco can pull off stoner humor. Heck, he did it in Green's Pineapple Express. Here, however, Franco looks as uncomfortable as he did in the godawful Tristan and Isolde or, for that matter, the recent Academy Awards. Franco's an immensely talented guy, but how can a film manage to so completely squander having an Oscar nominee and an Oscar winner in the cast and still be this freakishly bad.
I'm fairly certain Natalie Portman has to be wondering "Can they make me give back my Oscar?"
No, Natalie. You're safe...unless, of course, you keep doing this kind of drivel and find yourself in the land of Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Toby Jones has a few solid moments as a frightfully unique, or is that eunuch, knight. Zooey Deschanel, who could probably sell shoes to this footless film critic, does the best she can with a character that is woefully under-developed and not really allowed to have any fun.
Even the tech aspects of Your Highness are sadly inadequate, with fight scenes and chase scenes so badly choreographed that it's difficult at times to determine what's going on. Steve Jablonsky's original music borders on irritating, while Tim Orr's camera work manages to detract from the few attempts at physical comedy present.
This is a weird week in the cinema, with two of the weekend's biggest films both featuring trailers that don't begin to tell you the full story. With Arthur, the final result is far more entertaining than one might expect from a trailer that over-emphasizes Russell Brand being Russell Brand and doesn't begin to capture the film's surprising heart and genuine humor. In the case of Your Highness, however, the sub-par trailer can't begin to tell you just how much this film will disappoint you. While it's entirely likely that there will be worse films this year than Your Highness, few will actually waste this much talent.
Okay, guys. I hope you had a great time making this film together. Can you get back to making decent flicks now?