Your Highness actually quite low-brow


by Emily Searles

A weak comedy about knights on a quest for love and honour, Your Highness packs some fun punches, but not nearly enough to carry the movie to its end.  A few good jokes lie in wait, scattered across the script; for the most part they rely on obscenities that are initially entertaining (considering they are packed into a fantasy with wizards, minotaurs, and dwarf kingdoms), however with subsequent retellings they lose their bite.  It is not a dreadful movie, and some of the ridiculous and gory fight scenes were enjoyable, although again they lose their element of surprise with subsequent skirmishes, but Your Highness is a not-so-screwball comedy which soon loses the charm with which some of its funnier moments are blessed.

Thadeous (Danny McBride) is the lazy, womanizing younger brother of Fabious, played goofily by James Franco.  They embark on a quest to save Fabious’s true love, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), from the evil intentions of wizard, Leezar (Justin Theroux).  Along the way Thadeous and Fabious meet Isabel (Natalie Portman), a headstrong, revenge-driven warrior who stops at nothing to right the wrongs she has encountered.  Franco deserves praise for playing Fabious with an air of irony that makes his portrayal of the hero seem all the more endearing – Franco can’t help being funny.  McBride however doesn’t deliver, and his performance relies more on profanities and offensive humour, giving the feeling that he is desperate for a laugh and will go to extreme lengths to obtain one.

That said, some of the shots of Northern Ireland are stunning, and the Giant’s Causeway is a marvellous location for a fantasy.  The heroes march across the natural landmark, and it is fitting that this is where they discover the entrance to the secret labyrinth.  Watching some of the outdoor scenes reminded me of the outdoor scenes in The Adventures of Robin Hood, shot in California.  In fact, Franco’s portrayal of Fabious is reminiscent of the swashbuckling Errol Flynn in both his effortless fight scenes and his playful charm.

Not really a buddy movie, but not really a screwball comedy either, Your Highness is thematically confused.  Is it supposed to be funny that this knights’ tale set in the Middle Ages uses Grecian mythology and 18th century costumes in a few scenes?  And perhaps the repetitive sex jokes and stoner allusions are supposed to make me laugh as well?— although I must admit, a few of them did.

3 Stars