Sick of watching his perfect older brother Fabious (James Franco) do everything right as he waits to claim the throne from his father the King (Charles Dance), Thadeous (Danny McBride) lives a debauched life smoking wizard's weed, drinking booze and playing with maidens of easy virtue. But when Fabious' bride-to-be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) is kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux), the king gives his deadbeat son an ultimatum: he must join Fabious on a dangerous journey to rescue Belladonna and save the kingdom. Along the way, the knights meet Isabel (Natalie Portman), a warrior with her own agenda who joins them in their dangerous mission.
Review by Louise Keller:
Your Highness is an irreverent romp with knights, swords and daggers fighting with valour for honour, revenge and a damsel in distress - and a horse carriage load of expletives. Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green brings a lively, tongue-in-cheek energy to the tale designed to entertain teenage boys and for the most part, delivers in hyper-reality fashion. What works is the impertinent tone in which the characters delight in shocking with the bawdiness of the spoof genre. Bare breasts, penises and foul language adorn the proceedings between the swashbuckling adventure and special effects.
Prepare yourself for one twisted tale... and other serious sh*t is the promise at the beginning, after which a B movie fantasy spoof begins. James Franco is the heroic Fabious, long-haired heir to the throne and the King's favourite, acclaimed as mighty, mercy and magnificent. Zooey Deschanel as Belladonna is his chosen bride, a bit of a strange damsel in that she has been captive in a tower for most of her life and doesn't know that a fork is to put food in her mouth.
Danny McBride, who wrote the screenplay with Ben Best, plays Fabious' lazy, cowardly, ratbag of a younger brother Thadeous, who is jealous of his brother and wants the throne for himself. Never mind that McBride looks a lot older than Franco or that they don't match physically, the film is not meant to be taken seriously. Natalie Portman as the beautiful warrior trying to avenge her family who joins the knights is a bit out of place but decorative she is, with her metal g-string style chastity belt. Toby Jones is good value and makes an impact with an unexpected nude scene. The English accents all work well.
Justin Theroux as Leezar, the evil wizard intent on penetration of Belladonna as the twin moons unite in the heavens above is a juicy villain with a fiery presence: his intensity is a good contrast to the theatrical earnestness and silliness of the knights. The kidnapping of Belladonna is the catalyst for the journey in which the Princely brothers must travel side by side, amidst treachery, disloyalty and adventures involving bare breasted women, a multi headed giant serpent, highland dwarves, a sex-crazed Minotaur and a penis trophy celebrating a kill.
On its own terms, the film gallops along and it looks as though they're all having a whale of a time. The production values are good, as is the music that whips along in uplifting and rhythmic fashion. Art this ain't, but good, rollicking fun it is.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
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YOUR HIGHNESS (MA15+)
CAST: James Franco, Danny McBride, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Damian Lewis, Justin Theroux, Toby Jones, Charles Dance, Brian Steele, Noah Huntley
PRODUCER: Scott Stuber
DIRECTOR: David Gordon Green
SCRIPT: Danny McBride, Ben Best
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tim Orr
EDITOR: Craig Alpert
MUSIC: Steve Jablonsky
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Tildesley
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 12, 2011