PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Film

McBride, the Vulgarian: 'Your Highness'

This is a film that wallows in a level of scatology so severe that the Farrelly Brothers might as well give up on the subgenre for good.


Your Highness

Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Charles Dance. Justin Theroux, Zooey Deschanel
Rated: R
Studio: Universal
Year: 2011
US date: 2011-04-08 (General release)
UK date: 2011-04-08 (General release)
Website
Trailer

Your Highness is the equivalent of a fart in church. It's funny, but you feel really bad (REALLY BAD) for laughing at it. It's like looking into a stoned 14 year olds comedy journal and discovering that the monologue he's been working on for the last few months is nothing more than a string of gratuitous f-bombs and some random dick jokes - in other words, the output of Judd Apatow circa 2007. Rumored to be a totally improvised sword and sorcery spoof, and often feeling like it, this unusual diversion from director David Gordon Green (who obviously inhaled far too deeply on the set of the Pineapple Express) is really nothing more than an extended vacation of the cast and crew. As CG effects fill the screen, our stars spout silly lines meant to make little or no sense while everything plays like a sleazy Dungeons and Dragons game - and that's meant to be a compliment.

The main plot follows a pair of brothers - the beloved and heroic Fabious (James Franco) and the lazy and slovenly Thadeous (Danny McBride) - as they serve their benevolent father, the King (Charles Dance). One day, upon returning from another successful conquest, the former announces his intent to be married. The apple of his often wandering eye is Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) and Fabious wishes an immediate ceremony. As narrative luck would have it, she is a virgin and perfect for the evil wizard Leezar's (Justin Theroux) bizarre ritual. If he can impregnate her when the two moons merge (?), he will gain ultimate power over man. So he kidnaps the maiden and head to his tower. Grief stricken, Fabious heads out to rescue Belladonna. Much to his chagrin, Thadeous is sent as well. Along the way, they discover a band of traitors, tackle a few fabled creatures, and befriend a fierce female warrior named Isabel (Natalie Portman) who has her own beef with Leezar.

Your Highness is a true novelty in today's Hollywood, and we don't mean its third act reliance on a semi-erect minotaur penis to get the audience's attention. This is a film that wallows in a level of scatology so severe that the Farrelly Brothers might as well give up on the subgenre for good. Yes, it's uneven and scattered, striking targets hard when it hits while missing by medieval miles when it doesn't, but it's all in good fun...mostly. In Franco, McBride, and Portman, Green finds a trio of actors willing to go for broke to make a viewer laugh. That they don't always succeed is the least of Your Highness' concerns. Instead, everything is aimed at the codpiece, and when the bawdy nut shots arrive, we can't help but snicker. It's like the first dirty joke you ever heard - juvenile, sexually-oriented, and without a lick of redeeming social value...and still, you remember nearly pissing your pants in glee upon the punchline.

After being almost omnipresent from 2007 to 2009, McBride has stepped back and been more choosey with his projects. Like his character in the delightful TV series Eastbound and Down, Thadeous is a ridiculous rogue, an arrogant ass without a single reason to be so supercilious. He's jealous of everyone around him, and yet seems to exist on a steady diet of avoiding anything remotely resembling responsibility. Sure, it's more post-modern than renaissance fair, but then so is all of Your Highness. As a counterpart, Franco finds the right balance between clueless and clever. He's got the look and the instantly likability, but Fabious has his flaws. He's weirdly disconnected to those around him, and can't see sabotage when it practically stabs him in the back. Sure, he can kill the marauding monster, but he's not pure champion. Along with Portman's sleek battle goddess and Theroux's anti-villain villain, Your Highness has some definite high points.

It also lapses into a few lows - and again, we aren't talking about the monster's mythical dong. For all she has to do, including a simple song and dance number, Ms. Deschanel appears tossed in from another film all together. She's almost too contemporary, too much like a indie chick trying to play regal that we see through the ruse. Similarly, much of the ancillary cast is shuttled into the background, only Thadeous' trusted manservant Courtney (played with plenty of bowl cut relish by Rasmus Hardiker) showing any kind of solo moxie. Indeed, one does get the distinct impression that Green gathered up his buds, snagged a bunch of commercial cred cash, headed over to the UK, and declared it party time. As the recreational refreshments flowed freely, they shot a scene or two. If it made sense, great. If it didn't...even better!

That being said, this is definitely more of a noble slip than a classic send-up. What's missing is an unique knowledge of the source material. There is no attempt to satire Tolkein, to make the era part of the possible wit. Monty Python understood how to ground its goofiness in an aura of authenticity. Even with the lush location, Your Highness often feels like wrap-party held on a studio set, before the actual movie was even made. The lulls between laughs can be huge, and we are never truly invested in the outcome. Leezar could win and all we care about is if Green will show us the baby dragon birth. This is a film awash in massive missed opportunities. It's also undeniably sidesplitting at times.

So if you don't mind a little - nay, a slab of - guilt with your pleasure, if the constant barrage of curse words and crudities don't turn your Puritanical perspective pale, Your Highness will work. It's vulgar and vile, but also capable of great charms. Somewhere, in the back pew, near the exit, sits the young whippersnapper who decided to infiltrate the sacred cinematic temple of the mainstream comedy Lord with his errant bodily function, and for a moment, we are all aghast. But if, after the shock, you are secretly snickering to yourself, this is the braindead farce for you. There is nothing really wrong with Your Highness. There's nothing really right about it either.

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Music

'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.

Music

Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.

Music

MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.