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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Leonard Klady's Friday Estimates
Friday Screens % Chg Cume
The Purge: Anarchy 12.9 2806 NEW 12.9
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 10.4 3969 -62% 113.4
Planes: Fire & Rescue 6.3 3826 NEW 6.3
Sex Tape 5.6 3062 NEW 5.6
Transformers: Age of Extinction 2.7 3224 -45% 219.9
Tammy 2.3 3402 -45% 65.9
22 Jump Street 1.4 2229 -31% 177.2
How to Train Your Dragon 2 1.1 2169 -40% 157.9
Earth to Echo 1 2450 -44% 29.7
Maleficent 0.9 1541 -27% 226
Also Debuting
Persecuted 0.31 736
Wish I Was Here 0.15 68
Velaiyilla Pattathari 61,800 31
Mood Indigo 10,400 2
There's No Place Like Utopia 10,300 1
I Origins 9,500 4
A Five Star Life 4,000 1
Alive Inside 3,600 1
An American in Hollywood 2,750 4
Among Ravens 2,000 4
Video Games 1,700 6
3-Day Estimates Weekend % Chg Cume
It was supposed to be a horse race (notwithstanding Belmont) but at the finish line the singular teen romance The Fault in Our Stars left the competition in the dust with an estimated $48.1 million debut. Conversely, the frame’s other major release Edge of Tomorrow proved disappointing in a distant second at $28.9 million.
Exclusive newcomers were strong, including a solo Manhattan campaign of $9,400 for Citizen Koch. Much-ballyhooed abortion-themed rom-com Obvious Child proved fertile with $84,100 at four dispensaries.
In the niches, Indian import Holiday partied fair at $373,000 while Pinoy romantic comedy Maybe This Time grossed an impressive return of $552,000 on a trifling 51 screens.
Revenues for the session exceeded $160 million and ebbed 3% from last weekend’s tally. It was 8% improved from 2013 when the debut of The Purge posted $34 million and holdovers of Fast & Furious 6 and Now You See Me duked it out for place position with respective box office of $19.6 million and $19 million.
Industry tracking pitted The Fault in Our Stars against Edge of Tomorrow with the former demonstrating a slight edge as it picked up momentum toward opening day. The adaptation of John Green’s YA novel of teens who strike sparks in a cancer support group had a prognosis of $35 million.
The tide truly turned when Fault generated $8.2 million and Edge took in $1.8 million from Thursday previews. Crystal ball-gazers upped the ante to $55 million but the picture took another surprise turn with an unexpected 31% drop from Friday to Saturday business. Strong WOM in exit polling bodes well to broaden the opening weekend crowd, a predictaly 82% of women and was 79% aged 25-years and younger.
Edge of Tomorrow appeared to suffer from the amusement park factor with the movie crowd opting to skip this particular fun ride. Tracking had pegged the pic to open at between $32 million and $34 million. Reviews were upbeat for the futuristic mayhem with a Groundhog Day twist that opened a week earlier in 27 international territories to $18.7 million.
Exit demos also indicated that the sci-fier wasn’t particularly stepping on Fault’s toes with a 61% male tilt and 73% of the audience aged 25-years and older. A studio spokesman expressed confidence for a strong second weekend hold but history and upcoming competition definitely have the picture bucking considerable odds. International prospects are already ahead of Edge of Darkness’s likely final domestic tally with a second weekend estimated at $82 million that included a $25 million bow in China, $16.6 million in South Korea and Russia with $8.6 million.
Open Road's Chef expanded effectively again, prepping $10 million domestically.
Weekend (estimates) June 6 - 8, 2014
Title
Distributor
Gross (average)
% change *
Theaters
Cume
The Fault in Our Stars
Fox
48.1 (15,160)
NEW
3173
48.1
Maleficent
BV
33.6 (8,520)
-52%
3948
127.5
Edge of Tomorrow
WB
28.9 (8,280)
NEW
3490
28.9
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Fox
14.9 (4,090)
-54%
3639
189
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Uni
7.2 (2,270)
-57%
3160
30.1
Godzilla
WB
6.0 (1.920)
-50%
3110
185.1
Neighbors
Uni
5.2 (1,940)
-36%
2674
137.8
Blended
WB
4.0 (1,370)
-51%
2928
36.5
Chef
Open Road
2.5 (1,940)
32%
1298
10.3
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Sony
1.9 (1,290)
-46%
1481
196.3
Million Dollar Arm
BV
1.8 (1,120)
-49%
1643
31.4
Belle
Searchlight
.75 (1,580)
-40%
476
7.6
Rio 2
Fox
.72 (1,030)
-35%
702
125.6
Maybe This Time
ABS
.55 (10,820)
NEW
51
0.55
The Other Woman
Fox
.48 (980)
-65%
489
83.2
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
BV
.43 (1,360)
-31%
317
255.9
Holiday
Big Pictures
.37 (2,590)
NEW
144
0.37
Heaven is for Real
Sony
.37 (830)
-54%
446
88.8
Words and Pictures
Roadside Attractions
.29 (2,940)
269%
98
0.54
Grand Seduction
eOne
.28 (3,020)
-13%
97
0.82
The Lego Movie
WB
.26 (960)
-5%
274
255.8
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Fox Searchlight
.24 (1,280)
-37%
185
57.8
Ida
Music Box
.21 (2,540)
-10%
84
1.3
The Immigrant
Weinstein
.19 (1,320)
-39%
145
1.4
Divergent
Lionsgate
.19 (650)
-43%
298
149
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films)
$156.60
% Change (Last Year)
8%
% Change (Last Week)
-3%
Also debuting/expanding
Fed Up
Weinstein Co.
83,600 (950)
-49%
88
1.2
Obvious Child
A24
84,100 (21,030)
4
0.08
Cold in July
IFC
68,900 (970)
-38%
71
0.25
Night Moves
Cinedgm
48,500 (1,520)
126%
32
30,800
Lunchbox
Sony Classics
50,700 (1,100)
-9%
46
4.1
Filmistaan
UTV
35,500 (1,480)
24
0.04
WolfCop
Echolands
34,900 (4,360)
8
0.03
Ping Pong Summer
Gravitas
26,400 (1,760)
15
0.03
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
Weinstein Co.
23,200 (5,800)
4
0.02
Only Lovers Left Alive
Sony Classics
22,800 (760)
-53%
30
1.6
Tracks
Mongrel
13,800 (2,760)
5
0.01
Citizen Koch
Variance
9,400 (9,400)
1
0.01
Trust Me
Paladin
5,100 (565)
9
0.01
Burning Blue
Film Arcade
4,600 (380)
12
0.01
The Case Against 8
Submarine
4,300 (1,430)
3
0.01
Test
Variance
2,400 (800)
3
0.01
Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 - June 5, 2014)
Distributor
Box Office
Market Share
Warner Bros. (12)
728.5
16.80%
Buena Vista (11)
677.1
15.60%
20th Century Fox (11)
615.2
14.20%
Sony (11)
577.7
13.30%
Universal (10)
540.5
12.50%
Paramount (8)
322.2
7.40%
Lionsgate (13)
285.4
6.60%
Open Road (6)
95.1
2.20%
Fox Searchlight (5)
83.7
1.90%
Weinstein Co. (12)
76.5
1.80%
Relativity (5)
75.5
1.80%
FreeStyle (6)
68.9
1.60%
Focus (6)
39.2
0.90%
eOne/Seville (14)
35.3
0.80%
Other * (142)
107.9
2.60%
4328.7
100.00%
* none greater than 0.4%
Top Domestic Grossers (Jan. 1 - June 5, 2014) *
Title
Distributor
Box Office
The Lego Movie
WB
255,590,340
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
BV
255,447,104
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Sony
194,388,396
Godzilla
WB
179,093,006
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Fox
174,401,266
Divergent
Lionsgate
148,811,524
Frozen *
BV
137,534,677
Ride Along
Uni
134,965,071
Neighbors
Uni
132,600,495
Lone Survivor
Uni/eOne
125,026,404
Rio 2
Fox
124,909,565
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Fox
110,162,081
300: Rise of an Empire
WB
106,601,189
Noah
Par
100,950,258
Maleficent
BV
93,846,968
Non-Stop
Uni
91,869,306
Heaven is for Real
Sony
88,412,645
American Hustle *
Sony/eOne
82,661,672
The Other Woman
Fox
81,725,819
The Monuments Men
Sony
78,132,865
* does not include 2013 Box Office