“Your Highness” not made of royal quality

By DailyCollegian.com Staff

Fans of fantasy films or Natalie Portman filed in to see “Your Highness” upon its release this past weekend. What they may not have been aware of, however, is that this movie was created by director David Gordon Green (“Pineapple Express”), and takes on a similar mantra of brainless stoner film mannerisms without the funny weed jokes (or Seth Rogan).

The film follows two resentful brothers, Thadeous (Danny McBride) and Fabious (James Franco, both with leading roles in “Pineapple Express”) who embark on a quest to save a damsel in distress. Thadeous is the fat, lazy younger brother of the heroic Fabious. Thadeous is unhappy with his less than valiant life, so in turn he gets high most of the time. Fabious’ love, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel, “500 Days of Summer”) is stolen by the evil warlock Leezar (Justin Theroux), who must impregnate the virginal Belladonna at the time that the two moons meet so that she can birth a dragon. Confused? Seeing the movie will barely clear up this bizarre plot line. The film does not focus enough time on setting up rules and a history of this mythical world. They spend only about one minute on this, actually – by reading out of an animated book bordered with a pot leaf pattern that proves distracting to viewers during what should in fact be important background to the story.

One of the difficulties found in fantasy plots is that viewers need to somehow be acquainted with the rules of this new world. Unfortunately, the writers did not even seem to know what cultural norms existed in the world that they created. While the actors speak with British accents and elevated diction that mimics 19th century English, the dialogue oscillates between over-the-top speech and inappropriate and unexpected slang. Rather than attempting to write real jokes, it seems that the screenwriters thought it best to draw laughs from inconsistent profanities.

The title, “Your Highness” appears to be a play on words, suggesting that the movie belongs in the category of “Harold and Kumar…” and “Half Baked,” and would be best for an audience in another state of mind. Perhaps one of the most memorable scenes of the movie is with the psychedelic puppet, the Great Wise Wizard, who grows his own herbs, and has a glittering brain; even this scene is ruined by a slew of distasteful references to molestation, however.

The film is surprisingly gory, and may be better marketed as a guy’s movie, though the theatrical trailers did little to suggest this. The film utilizes the gross-out factor to get laughs, but more often than not, the audience is merely unsettled. The incongruity of the relationship between Thadeous and Fabious leaves the audience detached from the characters because their personalities are too complicated for this mindless movie. The protagonist is rather unlikeable throughout the entire movie, so it hard to care about him and though he goes through a serious of challenging quests, his character remains static. Fabious’s heroic masculinity is contrasted with numerous sexual references towards men and these jokes become more confusing than humorous.

For moviegoers excited to see Natalie Portman on the silver screen once again, “Your Highness” is a disappointment. She is not introduced until halfway through the movie, and even then she disappears multiple times and plays little role in the movement of plot. It seems as though, just in case Deschanel’s extensive cleavage was not enough, filmmakers added Portman’s character for extra eye candy, as her thong bikini may be the most prominent part of the entire film.

The action in “Your Highness” is over-the-top in a “Princess Bride” sort of way, but much less endearing, because this is not 1987 (and there is no excuse for having people in poorly made Minotaur costumes, because CGI has been around for a while now). When CGI is used, (such as for the lasers that Leezar shoots from his hands, clearly a reference to Emperor Palpantine from “Star Wars”), it simply looks overdone; the audience is unsure if the movie is taking itself seriously. But that is the problem – it is unclear when the movie is being facetious or totally sincere.

“Your Highness” is not a complete waste of film. Some funny jokes are made. Some actors are attractive, and there is occasional partial nudity. If the movie had been advertised as a stoner flick rather than a comedy for anyone over 17, perhaps the viewers would go into the movie with different expectations.

Maybe if you are looking for something to do after Extravaganja this weekend, this movie is worth your time. Otherwise, “Your Highness” is one to skip.

Acacia DiCiaccio can be reached at [email protected]