Saturday, 23 April 2011

YOUR HIGHNESS review

Now in cinemas is David Gordon Green's new Danny McBride, James Franco and Natalie Portman starring Medieval stoner comedy. There's the trailer and my review, next...



When Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), the beautiful bride to be of Fabious (James Franco) gets kidnapped, he and his brother Thadious (Danny McBride) must go on a quest to save her before the evil Leezar makes her his Queen. On their journey they encounter many a beast that needs slaying and team up with a warrior princess (Natalie Portman) who happens to be heading the same way.


I'll be honest, I feared the worst when the first trailer appeared for Your Highness and I heard those appalling accents. As a fan of David Gordon Green's earlier, more thought provoking and dramatic output, I've had mixed feelings about his transformation into a director of frat comedies. It's starting to appear that his tagging as the next Terrence Malick was perhaps a tad premature, and after Pineapple Express, his acting as executive producer on Danny McBride's television series Eastbound and Down and now Your Highness, it looks like this is the slightly hazy, smoke filled path David Gordon Green's career is set to follow.


That's not to say there's anything wrong with working in comedy, and so far he's been able to attract some strong talent to his films. Appearing as the fatter, uglier, layabout brother Thadious, but also credited as writer and executive producer, this is definitely a Danny McBride film, and the first major film to feature him as the lead. His stamp is all over Your Highness, and the comedic level can be summed up in three words I never thought I'd see put together. Paedophile. Stoner. Jellyfish.


The cast not only re-teams Franco with McBride after Pineapple Express, but also sees Zooey Deschanel return to the fold after her standout performance in David Gordon Green's All The Real Girls. At first I wasn't quite sure what to make of her casting in this film, but in her scenes with the evil Leezar she proves herself to have some good comic timing. The whole subplot with Zooey Deschanel and Justin Theroux is a lot of fun; in fact there may have been a better film to be made from the deleted scenes of them sitting around the castle waiting for Franco and McBride to arrive.


Surprisingly uninvolved in the whole thing is Natalie Portman. Her character isn't even in the first half of the movie, and then when she does turn up she appears uneasy about the wacky goings on. James Franco, on the other hand, once again proves that he's pretty much capable of doing anything (except hosting the Oscars), slipping into the action hero role of dashing prince Fabious and joining in with the overtly comic buffoonery that McBride brings to the party. Special mention should be made to Rasmus Hardiker as sidekick Courtney, quite possibly providing more laughs than McBride manages.


The fantasy adventure aspect may be the most successful part of the movie, but it's not the most original set up I've ever seen; quite possibly the product of a slightly intoxicated, late night writing session, with dog eared Playboys on the table and The Princess Bride on the television. Taking 'inspiration' from every quest movie there's ever been, Your Highness relies on its humour to stand itself apart; and although a lot of the jokes do fall flat, it's such a fast paced romp that you'll still feel constantly entertained.


Undeniably a movie aimed at teenage boys who don't quite understand what they're laughing at, Your Highness is a rude, stupid and juvenile comedy, and what's so wrong with that once in a while?


Verdict



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