Movies: Your Highness

…written by Danny McBride and Ben Best, directed by David Gordon Green, starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, and Justin Theroux.

Pros: Hard-R rated Medieval Fantasy comedy that makes no apologies and asks nor gives any quarter.  Allows one to revel in one’s inner teen ager.

Cons: Cornucopia of dick and fart jokes will offend many;  not what you’d call a good movie for most wives/girlfriends.

Review:  In Your Highness, Prince Thadeous (McBride) is your typical self-centered delusional younger royal son.  He looks up to heir and hero Fabious (Franco), slayer of monsters and noble scion of the kingdom with both jealousy and affection.  Thadeous is the kind of dude who wallows in self-pity when Fabious comes home from his latest quest with a virginal bride-to-be in tow.  In fact, Thadeous goes out and gets high and chases sheep around instead of attending his brother’s wedding as the best man.  This is why when the evil wizard Leezar appears to steal Fabious’s bride back to his lair to start in motion a dread prophecy (known as the F***ening – the wizard has to impregnate the virgin princess as the two moons conjoin, thus ensuring she will birth a terrible dragon which Leezar will command) Thadeous is notably absent.

Be that as it may,  it’s questing time.  Fabious enlists Thadeous to seek out Leezar and prevent the F***ening.  A quest that will involve a visit to the creepy and perverted wise wizard for clues as to which mythical weapon can stop Leezar.  Betrayal is afoot.  Also, help from an unexpected heroine (Portman) and an eventual shot at redemption for Thadeous.  For most of us it’s familiar territory.

What’s unique about Your Highness, though, is McBride and company’s absolute commitment to both the fantasy/sword and sorcery genre and their hard-R sexual humor.   The effects and fight scenes are top of the line.  The actors deliver their faux-medieval accented lines with aplomb.  And not two minutes in the movie goes by without some kind of dick joke or sex reference.  Part of it is Thadeous’s lecherous nature: he’s the quintessential arrested man-boy.  Contrast that with the noble yet likable Fabious, and Natalie Portman’s satirical Xena-like Isabel.

The other important part obviously has to do with McBride, co-writer Best, and Director Green’s fantasy chops.  I would bet big money they were hardcore fantasy guys in their teens, probably playing D&D and reading the Forgotten Realms novels like many of us.  And as anyone who’s ever sat around the table with funny-shaped dice can attest, part of the fun of that group dynamic is the side-jokes and clowning around.  As inevitable as the Monty Python references are the dick and fart jokes.

When you have your two-handed sword out and you’re fighting a mess of hill giants (about 12-14 feet tall, so their crotch comes to eye-level), what are you going to target for chopping off?  And what do you keep as your war trophy?  When you’re wizardly lore includes mind-control and you find yourself at the inn with many a buxom wench, you just go there.  And when you’ve wreaked havoc in the castle, announced your dark plans, then have to pause to listen to the hero asking you what makes him think you’ll get away with it, the reply is, of course, “F***ing Magic!”

Leezar, the Wizard

This is the kind of humor you’ll find in Your Highness.  It’s just not for everyone.  And yet they don’t miss a beat.  As the movie progressed and I continued to laugh out loud (along with a handful of other dudes), I could feel Mrs. Beemsville growing increasingly annoyed.  Had I been in the theater with some of my old high school/college buddies, we would’ve had a grand old time.  As it was, I was entering the danger zone.  Still, I couldn’t stop laughing, and that’s as good as an endorsement as any.

Bottom Line:  Very funny genre send-up for the right audience;  good show by McBride, Franco, and Theroux; not exactly the best option for date-night.

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