Monday, January 23, 2012

Blogorium Review: Your Highness

  Sucks is a strong word. It's the kind of word that describes a movie that you loathe, that you actively hate beyond the point you'd forget other movies. Roger Ebert devoted an entire book to it, based on his disgust for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, when he told Rob Schneider that "your movie sucks." There are very few movies for which I have so much venom for that I'd say they sucked. To no one's surprise, Your Highness doesn't really suck.

 (It's okay, you read that right.)

  Your Highness is one of those movies that people sure think sucks. It'll probably win some Razzies if it's an easy enough target, and it was one of two black eyes for David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls): he took it hard for the first film and then was summarily dismissed for (presumably) ripping off Adventures in Babysitting with The Sitter. I wouldn't know, because I didn't see it. In my defense, I'd just watched Adventures in Babysitting two weeks prior. It seemed redundant. But I did see Your Highness.

 Before we jump into the review proper, it's probably important to mention that I'm not exactly a devotee of the "sword and sorcery" films that Your Highness is paying homage to (or making fun of). I've never seen Krull or The Barbarian and the Sorceress or the dozen of other movies that dominated the "Sci-Fi / Fantasy" section of Video Bar. I saw the covers and shrugged. Eventually I saw (and enjoyed) Conan the Barbarian, but Your Highness is paying tribute to a cinematic subgenre I'm not that versed on. Take that for what it's worth.

 Thadeous (Danny McBride) and Fabious (James Franco) are the sons of King Tallious (Charles Dance) in the kingdom of... well, I'm sure they mentioned it somewhere. Fabious is always on quests and Thadeous is at home picking on Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker), his squire or slave or something. When Fabious brings home Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), a prisoner of the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux), to be his bride, the sorcerer doesn't take it lying down. He captures Belladonna and Fabious, Thadeous, Courtney, Julie (Toby Jones) and brave knights head out to rescue her. With the help of the mysterious warrior Isabel (Natalie Portman), they race to find the Unicorn Blade and slay the wizard before the moons eclipse and Leezar's "Fuckening" begins.

 Your Highness is a film of unmitigated vulgarity. To what end, I'm not sure - profanity seems to exist for the sake of punctuating sentences. There's also some marijuana-based comedy, but nowhere to the degree of Green's Pineapple Express, which I would think people would make a connection to based on Franco and McBride. Beyond that, I'm not really sure what's supposed to be funny in Your Highness, which is unmistakably a comedy. If the mere image of Danny McBride in a suit of armor falling down stairs is the kind of thing that tickles your funnybone, get ready for yuks! There's also a pot smoking puppet that molested Fabious as a child and requires our heroes to, well, give him a "hand" before continuing on their quest. The best joke is an arguably clever bit of misdirection involving Thadeous' punishment for violating the Queen of the Dwarf People.

 I get that there might be some audience out there for people who want to see a minotaur sodomize Courtney before Danny McBride chops its johnson off and wears it around his neck. It's not a large audience, apparently, but I get that McBride and Ben Best (The Foot Fist Way) wrote this in the way a thirteen year old watching this film would re-enact it with his buddies. It's a hard R movie on a large scale (or it looks it, anyway - at 49 million I guess that's pretty moderate) that didn't seem to find its target market. I'm not saying that there isn't one; I'm just not sure how many hardcore Krull fans wanted to see a movie where the evil wizard promises to defeat Fabious with "magic, motherfucker" (actual line).

 So I get why there's so much animosity towards Your Highness. I don't see how it's the worst movie of last year, or even close to it, but the movie never "clicks." That said, I didn't really HATE Your Highness. It's not a "good" movie, but it's not unwatchable. I have no idea who thought this would be funny (well, my pet theory is the people who made it) but it's sporadically funny, there are some decent action scenes, and the relentless profanity can catch you off guard and induce a chuckle. It's also extremely violent at points, which works in its favor. I'm not saying you SHOULD watch Your Highness, even if you are, shall we say, stoned out of your gourd, but if it was on Showtime one afternoon and you were, shall we say, stoned out of your gourd, it's not going to kill your buzz. The cast is clearly having fun (especially Justin Theroux) and the stupid is kind of infectious after you give up trying to figure out why this movie exists.

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