By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
The awfulness of Your Highness registers in the first few minutes and then just remains in your face until the merciful final credits begin to crawl.
This amateurish spoof of fantasy epics prevalent in the 1980s (and yet not worth mentioning) runs out of gas before it even gets up to speed.
Danny McBride, the proud creator of this cockamamie comedic concoction, stars as Thadeous, a cowardly malingerer of a prince who goes on a quest — his very first — along with his valiant older brother Fabious, the heir apparent played by James Franco. Fabious has been on umpteen quests and has always overshadowed his deadbeat sibling.
They must rescue the kidnapped fiancée of Fabious and, if they have time, perhaps save their father’s kingdom.
Along the way, Thadeous meets and romances Isabel, a warrior princess with a hidden agenda and natural gifts as an archer, played by Oscar winner Natalie Portman, while Zooey Deschanel portrays Belladonna, the bride-to-be abducted on her wedding day by the wicked wizard Leezar, played by Justin Theroux.
Toby Jones as a town crier, Charles Dance as the king, and Damian Lewis as a backstabbing knight also arrive as guests at this party. And they look and sound just as embarrassed as they ought to.
The humor, which couldn’t be any broader or bawdier, is self-consciously R-rated. Nothing exceeds like excess, so the script piles on the spewed obscenities, over-the-top spurts of violence, and gay jokes, as if believing that they get funnier with every repetition.
Memo to the screenwriters: they don’t.
And about those obscenities, they’re sprayed around as if by middle schoolers who just discovered cursing as an outlet. And because they’re piled on nonstop from the get-go, they lose their power to shock or amuse.
It might be more apt to think of the film as You’re High-ness, because nothing about it is going to be funny to anyone not already high.
The director of this royal stink bomb, David Gordon Green (Snow Angels, George Washington, Undertow, All the Real Girls), also collaborated with McBride and Franco on Pineapple Express and worked with McBride on the TV series “Eastbound & Down.” And McBride both co-executive produced and co-wrote the feeble, undisciplined, tone-deaf script with Ben Best.
Green seems to be after a satirical tone that recalls Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride. But just as his Pineapple Express shot itself in the comedy foot with pointless and clumsy gunfire and action, Your Highness offers one juvenile anachronistic exchange after another until we just stop listening.
The film is also punctuated with surprising bursts of gore, which don’t help in any way. And the array of pointless special visual effects, which rarely make a comedy any funnier than it already is, seems to be there for no other reason than to justify the budget of this fiasco.
After all, the film seems to suggest, why make up twenty anachronistic wisecracks when you can just trot out the same two or three over and over again? The lazy creators of this celebration of repetitiousness ought to take a look at a few movies covering the same terrain and attitude — Monty Python and the Holy Grail, say, or even Robin Hood: Men in Tights — to see that it can actually be done without throwing up your hands and just repeating yourself till the lights come up.
So we’ll rescue 1 star out of 4 for Your Highness, a medieval mishmash that’s miles from mediocre.
“This quest sucks,” says Thadeous at one point. Couldn’t agree more.