It would be easy to just write off Your Highness as that stoner, fantasy movie from the Pineapple Express guys, and actually I almost did. To do that would actually be a disservice, because although ridiculous, Your Highness is the type of fantasy/action flick that last year's Clash of the Titans remake should have been – FUN.
Written by Danny McBride and Ben Best and directed by David Gordon Green, Your Highness is a knuckleheaded excuse to squeeze pot references and modern vernacular into a period fantasy piece. But it's also a competent story of redemption, brotherhood and heroism. After giving it a little more thought, it was its commitment to its genre that really made me appreciate the movie.
Take away the gimmick of how Your Highness is being marketed -- stoner fantasy flick -- and what you have is the tale of an ancient prophecy to spawn a dragon from a sacrificed virgin for ultimate power over the realm during a double moon eclipse.
C'mon, that's pretty newish right? Clash of the Titans just had a whole beat the Gods type vibe. At least Your Highness gets a few style points for this one right?
Also, at the heart of the film is the story of two Goofus and Gallant type brothers, the heroic Fabious (Franco) and the worthless Thadeous (McBride). Thadeus is a selfish cad, who drags around his fool Courtney as he gets into a "little" trouble. Bringing shame to his father the King, Thadeous cares little for others nor ultimately himself.
When Thadeous' brother Fabious returns from another successful quest, that pushes Thadeus even deeper into self loathing. Not only did Fabious win the day, but he also rescued the lovely virgin Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) to be his bride.
In a truly touching scene, Fabious sits down an underappreciated Thadeous and asks him to be his best man. It's in this little scene that Franco and McBride add a little heart to this movie and give this stoner fantasy movie some weight.
As the story takes shape, it's almost time for the moons to align again, and the evil, power hungry wizard this time around is the lewd and creepy Leezar (Justin Theroux). It turns out that Belladonna was his virgin and he needs her back to spawn his dragon seed. Along with his evil witch mothers, Leezar breaks up the nuptials and re-kidnaps Belladonna, setting up Fabious and Thadeous, along with fellow quester Isabel (Natalie Portman), to go rescue the girl and save the world.
Pretty standard stuff, sure, but here's where it works:
James Franco and Natalie Portman.
Okay sure, they're both great actors, an Oscar Nominee and an Oscar winner, but it's their commitment to these slim roles that actually lend a credible feel to the story, balancing out all the way too wacky stuff that's all over this film.
Director Green also doesn't skim on the atmosphere of the story nor the special effects. There's a great scene in the forest where an evil sloth man creates a five headed serpent from his hands and it's a believable threat.
Your Highness is juvenile, but doesn't that describe the whole genre? This film just embraces it all and not only tells a complete story but mocks it at the same time. Think Superbad meets Lord of the Rings.
There are a lot of great fantasy type moments in this film and a lot of off the wall comedy.
As a fan of both genres I found myself really enjoying this film even though I wanted to hate it. Your Highness might not be this year's best comedy, but don't just write it off or you'll miss a geeky good time at the movies.