Your Highness is a film that is going to divide people. It’s also going to be one that a lot of people, particularly the older, more “mature” audience, are going to greatly dislike. Even walking away from the movie, it’s easy to see why people would dislike it, even if you really enjoyed it. The jokes included never aim to go above low-brow humor, and if you don’t laugh at those, for whatever reason that might be, you will really dislike Your Highness.
I can say this with certainty because seeing this in the theatre, there were a great deal of people who were disappointed while leaving. I wasn’t one of them, because I laughed throughout the duration of the film, in-between cringing at some of the grotesque things that take place on-screen. And let me tell you, they are grotesque. Or maybe just using the word “gross” would be enough? I’m not sure, but you will likely have to look away at times. This film earns its R rating.
The plot is very basic, and not much about it will surprise you. Fabious (James Franco) has just returned home from a fabulous quest that netted him a wonderful young woman, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel). His younger brother, Thadeous, is jealous, showing his jealousy by skipping out on the wedding. At the wedding, an evil wizard, Leezar (Justin Theroux), captures Belladonna, and plans to impregnate her in 5 days time. Why? Because the child will be a dragon, that’s why. Fabious and Thadeous need to set out on a quest in order to get her back, within the time limit set out by Leezar.
Thadeous has never been on a quest before though, and is reluctant to join his brother. He is told by their father, the king (Charles Dance) that he will be banished if he does not tag along. He does so, and soon the pair is off to rescue the soon-to-be princess. It is at this point in the movie where the plot stops being of importance, and the real jokes can begin. And do they ever.
Now, almost all of the jokes in Your Highness contain at least one of two things: Sexual references, or extreme vulgarity. Often times, they include both. So if you are the kind of person who will not be ashamed to laugh at jokes of this nature, you really should see Your Highness with as many other people of this sort as you can. You will have a good time. Conversely, not enjoying “low-brow” humor will mean you’ll find Your Highness revolting, disgusting and pointless. I doubt you’ll find it boring though.
Something that the advertising didn’t mention much of is the fact that there are a lot more action scenes than one would think. While the jokes certainly are funny, the action scenes are almost the highlights of the film. They’re inventive, at the very least, and while they aren’t as funny as the non-action scenes, they’re highly enjoyable. Creativity is something that you’ll get from them, which is refreshing, because as much as Your Highness does make fun of similar medieval films, it doesn’t steal its action scenes from them.
Although it definitely was designed to make fun of them. There are certain camera angles and situations that will make you think of other films. And then Your Highness will proceed to bash, make fun of, and otherwise belittle them. This is funny by itself, and when it’s used to break up other moments of less than intelligent humor, it works really well.
Something that I found interesting was the casting choices made. There are some big stars involved in this project: Natalie Portman, James Franco, Zooey Deschanel and Danny McBride are big enough names — but they’re all American. (Okay, Portman isn’t strictly speaking American, but you get my point). They all play characters with foreign accents and they all deliver them poorly. But this was intentional. There was a voice coach on-set when filming Your Highness, but it wasn’t to make their accents perfect. Director David Gordon Green chose to have them use whatever accent they pleased, and had the dialogue coach to keep the accent consistent — not “correct”. It’s one of those little things that makes you appreciate the film even more.
The best thing I can say about Your Highness is that it made me laugh a lot. The worst thing I can say is that a lot of people probably won’t enjoy it. But if you enjoy the type of humor that it presents, you’ll have a really good time. Most surprising about it was the fact that the action scenes were quite inventive, and it ends up being a fun journey. The story isn’t involving, and the characters aren’t that interesting, but it made me laugh enough to forget that these things even matter. It was worth the price of admission.