You don’t have to be high to enjoy Your Highness, but it might help.
Prince Fabious (James Franco) has just returned from his latest quest and like always has won the respect of the entire village. This type of honor doesn’t sit well with Fabious’ brother Thadeous (Danny McBride) who is sick and tired of being overlooked by everyone in the village including his own father. While on his latest journey, Fabious meets Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), the woman of his dreams and asks for her hand in marriage. As the new couple begins to celebrate their engagement, an evil wizard named Leezar (Justin Theroux) breaks into the castle and kidnaps Belladonna. Now, its up to Fabious and his dimwitted brother Thadeous to set out into the forest and slay the dragon in order to save his beautiful bride to be. A stoner comedy of medieval proportions ensues…
When I first watched the trailer for Your Highness, I actually laughed quite a bit and then when I saw the red band trailer, I laughed even harder. Why am I pointing this out? Because I normally don’t like stoner comedies and probably would avoid them at all costs most of the time, but something about this film just seemed funny to me. I think the big difference was the solid cast, which includes two people who were just nominated for an Oscar. For those who need a quick recap, Natalie Portman just won best actress for Black Swan, while James Franco was in the running for best actor for 127 Hours. While Your Highness is definitely not Oscar material, it doesn’t mean it isn’t fun and that is coming from someone who doesn’t even get high.
When Your Highness opens, it takes a good 15 minutes before some solid laughs happen. The beginning was a bit too stupid for me and seemed like everyone was trying to hard to be funny. I would have to say that during the opening 15 minutes you definitely needed to be high to laugh at what was going on screen because it just wasn’t that funny. However, as soon as the brothers journey begins, the film begins picking up steam, but as soon as Portman enters the film then the film starts really flowing and becomes the funny medieval comedy that the trailers promised it to be.
There are a lot of funny scenes in this film and while I am sure the film would be far more hysterical under the influence of some foreign substance, I was able to laugh myself silly at times. This film is just a stupid movie that serves almost as a spoof to medieval films. The jokes are all cheap, but than again that is to be expected based on the trailers. You have a weed smoking Yoda looking creature and some kind of walking bull with a huge penis. These things are funny in the context of the film, even if they are extremely childish. This is a stoner comedy through so I don’t know how anyone can be surprised. The best thing about the film in my eyes, however are the one liners, most of which are delivered by Portman and Theroux who underhandedly steal the film from everyone else
I really am shocked that this film got reviewed as poorly as it did. While its not a masterpiece, nor an example of brilliant comedy, this is a film that looks and feels like everyone involved just had fun working on it. There has been a lot of talks with this film as to why an actress as great as Portman would take on a role in such a stupid film. Franco hasn’t been questioned as much since he has done many comedies in the past. I believe that question has to be answered on a person by person basis. There are several of those in Hollywood who do films like this as a way to pick up some cash, because lets face it those Indie gems, although usually masterpieces, don’t pay a lot. Others do it purely for the money and look at it as just another job. But then there are others who do it for fun…which is where I think Portman fits in. She clearly did this film for fun and has went on record to say she enjoys stoner comedies.
In my humble opinion, there is nothing wrong with a great actor or actress starring in a silly comedy here and there. The key, however, is making sure that you don’t pull a Robert DeNiro and get lost in the mix and lose credibility as an actor. After taking on several dramatic roles, I find it refreshing to see Portman star in two films, Your Highness & No Strings Attached, which don’t require a lot of heavy emotion on her part, but instead allow her to show off her playful side. The funniest thing about Portman is that no matter what role she plays, she always comes out shinning. Portman’s role as Isabel is the best one in the film, because not only does her character deliver some great one liners, but she’s the glue that holds the film together. While McBride along with his sidekick Rasmus Hardiker are funny in the film, it is Portman’s character that truly brings out the best in everyone.
While Portman, McBride, and Hardiker all work well as a comedic team, Franco is the one who seems out of place. His character gets kidnapped during the entire middle portion of the film, which seems like a god send. His character just isn’t that interesting, nor does Franco use his charm like he normally does to win over the audience. His character seems to fall flat. Zooey Deschannel is extremely underused in the film, but looks cute even if she doesn’t have much else to offer to the role. Also before moving on from the actors, I must point out that Justin Theroux makes a hilarious villain. He was just great and like Portman delivered some great one-liners. You can tell he was just having fun with the role as well as the rest of the cast.
While its a far cry from perfection, Your Highness gives its audience some solid laughs even if you aren’t high when you watch it. If you liked the trailers, you will probably like the film. While the opening is a bit rough, it does get significantly better as the film reaches the 30 minute mark. Also, let me not leave out my masculinity here and forget to comment on the amazing that thong scene is, which many would argue is worth the price of admission alone. Yes that was a cheap shot, but then again who would I be to not appreciate Portman’s beautiful bottom lol. All in all, if you like stupid comedies and spoof films than I would check this one out, it is one of the better ones despite the lackluster reviews from the mainstream critics.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Your Highness is a 7 out of 10.