Your Highness (2011, David Gordon Green)
In a Medieval-esque fantasy realm the noble prince Fabious (James Franco) has his illustrious bride-to-be Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) kidnapped by the evil sorcerer Leezar (Justin Theroux). Him and his brother Thadious (Danny McBride), along with their humble servant Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker), embark on a quest to rescue the fair maiden, with spikey adventurer Isabel (Natalie Portman) fast in tow. Along the way they face many trials and tribulations — will they prevail over evil and arrive in time to prevent the sinister ceremony known only as ‘the fuckening’?
The comedy contained within Your Highness adheres to a very specific genre — let’s call it ‘stoner humour’. That’s not to say that you’d need to be intoxicated to enjoy the film, but it probably wouldn’t hurt. Plenty of the jokes within are misfires but there is the occasional chuckle-out-loud, rather than full blown laugh-out-loud, moment. Instead of being a hilarious comedy, Your Highness sits in the category of ‘amusing’ films; the story is entertaining, the characters are simple but effective moulds and it all looks vibrant and colourful. After the tide of bad press, you’d be forgiven for having predominantly negative preconceptions of the film — if you are equipped with these when you begin viewing, you might just find yourself enjoying it.
As mentioned previously, it’s nowhere near funny enough. It’s not like a lot of the humour falls flat, rather it never builds up enough momentum to deliver a decent punch line. Some of the jokes attempt to be grotesque but clearly they’re not here for the benefit of the audience — McBride and co. must have had a lot of self-satisfactory fun during the production, but that doesn’t really translate into fun for the viewer. Your Highness is light-hearted yes, but it’s also lightweight.
A decent gag reel, accompanied by an extensive ‘making of’ featurette, a ‘line-o-rama’ — which contains alternate versions of the film’s better lines — and an audio commentary with the director, Franco and the other majors cast members, make this a decent haul. Slightly more bizarre is the ‘vision of Leezar’ feature — a three minute long exposition of Justin Theroux’s method acting as the evil sorcerer. After a lot of manic laughing he gives us an insight into Leezar’s sex noises, complete with a neon backdrop. As you can imagine, it’s rather unsettling. Overall, the length of the bonus content makes it eligible for a decent rating, and there are enough humorous moments for it to be worth sitting through.
Your Highness will be released on DVD in the UK on Monday August 8th.