MCN Columnists
Heather Havrilesky

By Heather Havrilesky hhavrilesky@gmail.com

Review: Your Highness

NOT-SO-HIGH TIMES

“Your Highness” is about as fun as a bag of schwag and an episode of Starz’s “Camelot”

Pot can make any movie better. Don’t forget, though, that you actually have to smoke the pot to achieve these results. Just watching a bunch of scenes where characters smoke pot won’t do it. This is a common mistake that Universal’s marketing minions might just be banking on with Your Highness, a film that beckons to current and former stoners like an extra-large tub of Chubby Hubby ice cream and an ’89 Grateful Dead bootleg (“Hampton, dude! They broke out ‘Dark Star’ that night!”). A tale of medieval princes who toke from jewel-encrusted 6-foot bongs, then slice up Minotaurs with their steely knives? Why, that sounds almost as good as the average plot of an epic Tenacious D jam! Sign me up!

But sadly, while current stoners will have the good sense to arrive at Your Highness pre-baked (like those plucky gentlemen I spied in the parking lot after my viewing, shrouded in a promisingly thick cloud of smoke), a sad old person like me can become confused into believing that watching other people get high and ramble incoherently might be just as good as getting high myself. Strong though nostalgia may be, it doesn’t quite compare to good weed. Or, if you prefer: A joint in the hand is worth 200 on the big screen.

But what’s truly surprising – not just surprising but utterly lamentable, really – is that, despite its title, Your Highness features very little a) punchy madness, b) incoherent rambling, c) absurd asides, d) pointless digressions, e) general-purpose trippiness, f) actual jokes, or even f) pot smoking. Yes, you could safely assume that a film featuring Danny McBride as a soft, awkward, ne’er-do-well prince who lays about, puffing on a medieval pipe all day, might just embrace an overall stonery tone or ambience. But Your Highness stubbornly rejects all giddy weirdness and bizarre leaps into the abyss (or even scenes where a character sucks in too much smoke and then coughs for 5 minutes — which, to a stoner, are just as good). For what? A steady flow of really bad dick jokes. So look not to Your Highness for the delirious oddness of, say Clerks, or Dazed and Confused or The Three Amigos. Aside from one perverted, hookah-toking wizard, this film is about as unimaginative as any pot-themed movie has ever been. In fact, your average room full of semi-confused, not-incredibly-bright stoners could invent a movie fifteen times more fanciful, exciting and unpredictable than Your Highness, and all they’d ask for in return is an extra-large Hawaiian pizza.

The trouble begins with Thadeous, McBride’s prince, who obviously demands some of the whimsical self-delusion of Austin Powers to really spark. This is a medieval fantasy, after all, why not get a little erratic and freaky? Instead, McBride offers up the same old hapless-manchild routine we’ve seen fifty million times before, in which a pathetic, pouting middle-aged dude flails and grumbles and kicks medieval cans in frustration. Though not utterly charmless, McBride’s subtle sulking feels totally flat here. How could our binger-happy hero be quite so colorless and crestfallen? Should we really have to coach the star of a pot fantasy on how to inhale?

In fact, the only person onscreen who actually seems all that high is James Franco, who plays McBride’s handsome, adventurous, sober older brother. Truth be told, Franco appears to have smoked an enormous bong-load before every single scene. He looks a little wan, his eyes are all squinty, and he seems to relish each and every moment, delivering his lines with the half-smirk of a snide jester – more specifically, a snide jester with a big bag of pot waiting for him in his trailer. Indeed, Franco looks exactly the same in Your Highness as he does in this recent “Colbert Report” appearance – you know, the one where he admits to Stephen Colbert that he was smoking weed backstage before he came on? And while it’s vaguely enjoyable to speculate how high Franco must be in this film, it will only make you long that much more for some Cannabis to make all of these half-amusing moments add up to more than a queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach.

After Franco’s prince Fabious falls in love with Zooey Deschanel’s virgin hottie Belladonna, he looks on in agony as she’s swept away by evil magical dude Leezar (Justin Theroux), who plans to take her virginity when the two moons meet. When Belladonna asks of Leezar’s manhood, “How do you know it will work?” Leezar replies, “Because I’ve tested it. And if your vagina is anything like my hand, there should be no problem.”

This is, quite seriously, one of the better jokes in Your Highness. The only other solid joke that’s not in the trailer, in fact, is the repeated reference to Leezar’s big night with Belladonna as “The Fuckening!” I’d be hesitant to offer up the only examples of real humor here, except that in this case, I consider it a public service to save you $8 and that 1 hour and 42 minutes of your life that you’ll never, ever get back.

So how is it even possible that Universal spent $50 million on a movie that features exactly three chuckle-inducing jokes and the plot of a “Scooby Doo” episode? I hate to be a downer, but this is the kind of movie that forces your guilty brain to consider all of the great public works and charitable efforts that could have been achieved with that money, instead of giving a few guys an excuse to wear tights and make cracks about jerking off. Shouldn’t it be a criminal act to sink that kind of money into a comedy blockbuster that’s far less funny than your average half-hour of “The Colbert Report”? (Click on the link to Franco’s “Colbert” appearance, above, to experience exponentially more laughs than those available from Your Highness.) But that’s no surprise. “Your Highness” has less laughs than most Bud Light commercials.

With growing curiosity, I went looking for some explanation for this bomb online, and found a few clues in a Your Highness set visit by Joblo.com’s Mike Sampson. “We’re not trying to make Spaceballs,” McBride told Sampson. “We’re trying to make a fantasy movie for real that just happens to be funny.”

Director David Gordon Green added, “I would debate as to whether it’s approached as a comedy at all. There’s no jokes in this movie, there’s just a bunch of funny shit that happens.”

A note to McBride and Gordon Green: Yours is no more a “fantasy movie for real” than my dog is a high-level alien ambassador from the planet Zambutron. Next time, consider replacing “funny shit that happens” with actual jokes. Because we need a rewarmed medieval manchild movie like we need an old bag of shake and last week’s rerun of Starz’s “Camelot.” In other words, next time? You should try to make Spaceballs.

16 Responses to “Review: Your Highness”

  1. Matt Bennici says:

    You obviously don’t like good movies, i bet you didn’t even like pineapple express. And really this has very little to do with weed at all, the beginning of the movie maybe the first 20 minutes, contains all of the pot jokes. The rest of the film was a legitimate quest to save his love, they just had some funny stuff happen like the director explains. You don’t need to get high or do drugs to enjoy this movie, you just have to have a good sense of humour. Maybe you’re just not smart enough to understand a joke without a punchline but when i went to see the movie last night the theater was filled with laughs, everyone enjoyed it, especially me! And the action scenes were amazing, the monsters looked amazing and the battles were epic, just as a fantasy film should be; Because that’s what kind of movie this is, it’s not a stoner comedy, it’s a fantasy epic.

    Or maybe you should just of smoked weed if that’s the only way for you to enjoy a movie like this. Your also a woman and the jokes in the film were more or less for guys, which none-the-less didn’t stop the many women in the theater and my sister from enjoying it. I hate that reviewers are so biased that they can’t even see why someone else would like a movie, and they just call it stupid, or unfunny because they didn’t like it themselves when clearly others love it.

  2. Katey Jameson says:

    i totally agree. i’ve seen this movie twice now and i can’t get enough of it, but that’s probably because i’m a very immature fifteen-year-old who doesn’t need weed to have a good laugh. maybe if you were high off of your ass, you might find it funnier. i thought the plot of the whole movie was hilarious, from the pussy brother and servant, to the sad sack wizard, who happens to be my favorite actor. you “critics” are losers.

  3. Jamie D says:

    Fucking Hilarious! BUT I did keep thinking..”i’m Kenny Fucking Powers”. would see it again. But..I WAS high.

  4. Charlie says:

    I agree with you guys, I’m an immature 13 year old and the movie was hillarious! All my friends were laughing and theater was packed. My almost 50 year old parents loved it as well. The movie isn’t based around pot, but when there are jokes about it, they’re pretty damn funny. I don’t get how some one could not like this movie or at least not see how it appeals to everyone else.

  5. Tim Tujackoff says:

    Dude. Clue: The name of the film is “Your Highness.” If it’s such a great fantasy epic, why was everybody LAUGHING? I hate people who hate reviewers that are so biased they can’t even see why someone else… Wait. Who are we talking about?

  6. Terry says:

    Amazing, the five people who paid to see this piece of shit just happened to post here.

    Me thinks they all share the same ip address…..

  7. Matt Bennici says:

    Go home terry. And those are awful parent’s letting their 13 and 15 year old children see this movie, shame on them; this is the kind of movie a 13 year old boy would record so that they could watch it late at night when their parents went to bed, but i guess times have changed.. . And okay you caught me it’s a comedy-fantasy epic. happy? get a sense of humour. This movie will do fine when released on DVD/BD just as team America did, none of the critics liked it and it didn’t make much money from its theatrical release, but it gained huge popularity on dvd because that’s when everyone saw how truly funny it was; everyone listened to the critics at first and waited until it was out of theaters, which is generally what people do. This movie is way too great to go unnoticed.

  8. SamLowry says:

    A better question might be “How did a movie featuring an erect penis get an R rating?” Not that I’m complaining (that moment drew tremendous audience laughs), but I’m wondering if maybe they slid it past the MPAA by describing it as “fantasy nudity”?

  9. SamLowry says:

    As a frequent reader of Suck, I was saddened to hear that Polly Esther’s sense of humor died the moment she grew up and had kids.

    While this movie wasn’t perfect (and so few are), it was a jolly send-up of all the deadly serious sword-n-sorcerer flicks that always boil down to a heroic quest to save the world from evil magic. I’m sorry, but I can’t help but laugh every time I hear “the Fuckening”.

  10. LS says:

    You are clearly one of those Americans who need every joke explained to them for it to be funny. I am 18 and from England, the accents were pretty good, actually. I went to watch the film with my parents, boyfriend and 15 year old sister and we spent the entire film with our sides splitting. The jokes aren’t mature jokes; the film is one of those films where you just sit, watch and let your childish humour take over rather than scrutinise it. It’s not meant to be a fantastic epic film; it’s a good laugh. Some of the jokes; “Don’t you think Countenay’s new hair makes his head look like the tip of a penis?” had every member of the audience laughing hysterically. I would definately give this film 5 stars out of 5 as it is definately one of the best comedies I have seen for years; every other film I have managed to find something wrong that annoyed me, but this, to me and my companions, was comic genius.

  11. Kelly says:

    Reply to Sam Lowry: The reason they were able to get away with showing the erect penis was because it was considered “Non-human”. Showing a fully erect human male penis WOULD get it an NC-17 rating, but showing the erect penis of an animal (such as a pig or horse) is allowed in an R-rated film. Just like the erect horse penis shown in Freddy Got Fingered. The minotaur is half bull, and the bottom part is a bull, so it was an erect BULL penis. Also, it was a prosethic (fake) penis. That’s how it got passed. Technically, the could also show the SPREAD-OPEN VAGINA of a half animal/half human creature too.

  12. andrew says:

    Have to agree with Heather. It was pretty bad. And I usually like everything the director and pretty much everyone in the movie has ever done.

  13. MD says:

    Heather
    I couldn’t agree with you more. I loved pineapple express so this was a big letdown for me. I laughed twice, literally. I think I had a better time watching people that were high in the movie theater.

  14. Ronald says:

    Hey! stoners are not “not-incredibly-bright” as you say! Thats a stereotype! and I’m not surprised that it came from the mind of such a bias person as yourself.

  15. Its such as you learn my thoughts! You appear to know a lot approximately this, like you wrote the e-book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few % to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, that is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I’ll certainly be back.

  16. brad says:

    Your Highness entertained me from beginning to end with it’s well timed jokes and scenarios. It would’ve been worth seeing even without any of the herb smoking added. I think it’s up there with Wayne’s World and Something About Mary, two movies that are high on my list of comedies.

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