Your Quest for Fun Leads to ‘Your Highness’ (****)

Saturday, April 16, 2011
By Kevin Crossman
Danny McBride

Danny McBride

Fans of the Danny McBride’s previous roles as arrogant Taekwondo instructor Fred Simmons, or arrogant pitcher Kenny Powers will see plenty of parallels to Prince Thadeous in Your Highness. But, give Danny McBride credit: he knows what works for him. Prince Thadeous has absolutely no redeeming qualities, as he covets the fame of his perfect brother Fabious (James Franco), all the while abusing his sycophantic muse Courteney (Rasmus Hardiker). Yet, somehow, Prince Thadeous is exactly the character that audiences are rooting for.

Much has been made of the drug themes in Your “Highness”, directed by Pineapple Express alum David Gordon Green. And it’s true there are a few stoner jokes early in the movie. But the movie quickly turns into a quest and a film about brotherhood. Fans of Fantasy films should feel right at home, but the dialogue mixes medieval English with modern phrases to create a unique vibe that plays only half campy and half serious. The jokes come at a steady rate and though not all of them slay their opponents, your midsection will surely feel bruised by the end of the film.

McBride doesn’t really show us anything we haven’t seen before. Change Kenny Powers’ haircut, his accent, and the name of his wannabe friend and you have Your Highness in a nutshell. But, as with Kenny Powers, there is certainly a story arc for McBride’s character and it is not unsatisfactory. Asked to mostly carry the movie, McBride holds it together well.

James Franco plays it straight as the “good son” Fabius. It is to Franco’s credit that he cuts such as dashing figure, and one who is played heroically, not for the cheap effeminate laughs that could have trapped the writers. Franco’s range is tested in the film’s second act as there is a touching moment between the Prince and Thadeous’ muse Courtney, as both discuss Thadeous. ┬áNatalie Portman seems to be having a ball as a mysterious warrior named Isabel who befriends the royal trio. In addition to being charismatic, Portman truly impresses physically as she proves to be an able warrior. Zooey Deschanel isn’t given much to do here, except look like a virgin, though she does get to sing in a funny scene early in the film.

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman

Your Highness has several set-pieces with Fantasy elements, and in each scene the special effects truly enhance the film. Whether it be magical effects from the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux), an anatomically correct minotaur, or great wise wizard, Your Highness truly feels special in the theatre. The action scenes are exciting, peppered with grotesque gags. All of which makes Your Highness the most fun at the movies this year.

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