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Movie Review: Your Highness (R)

yourhighnessBy: Roxana Hadadi

 ‘Your Highness’ catapults to the bottom of the bad taste barrel

I talk about “The Hangover” a lot. Whether comparing it to “Hot Tub Time Machine,” “Hall Pass,” “Cedar Rapids” or “Furry Vengeance,” I tend to mention the 2009 film that became the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever quite often as an example of boys-behaving-badly done right. And look, I’m going to talk about it again: If you want to see a raunchy, dirty, hilariously gross comedy, don’t see “Your Highness.” Hold out until May 26, the day “The Hangover: Part II” arrives in theaters, instead – that’s only about seven weeks away. Be strong!

No, I am not on “Hangover” director Todd Phillips’ payroll, but I certainly regret every cent I spent on the way to see “Your Highness.” The insanely priced gas I put in my car. The damage I did while speeding over potholes. The $2 I paid to park. That money has now vanished into some terrible vortex where all the funds I spent seeing bad movies goes; it’s probably hanging out with the dollars from “Yogi Bear” and “The Last Song” right now. Those jerks.

Why see “Your Highness?” I couldn’t tell you. The script is funny sometimes but uncomfortable and lousy more often than not. The jokes about rape, child molestation, homophobia and sex trafficking are rampant and terrible. The acting from Danny McBride, James Franco and Rasmus Hardiker is good (despite the material, of course), but actresses Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel seem totally bored, with the former phoning in a lousy accent and the latter doing little more than flashing cleavage. And did I mention the jokes about rape, child molestation, homophobia and sex trafficking? So. Many.

The film, written by McBride and Ben Best (the two, along with director David Gordon Green, all work together on the HBO show “Eastbound & Down”), focuses on brothers Thadeous (McBride) and Fabious (Franco). The former is lazy, self-absorbed and cowardly, staying at the castle to get drunk and high and sleep with anyone willing, while his brother goes on quests, slays bad guys and is the pride of the kingdom. People call Fabious “mighty, magnificent and merciful”; Thadeous can’t even secure a partnership with the dwarf kingdom because he slept with the ruler’s second wife.
Jealous of the adoration his brother receives and frustrated that no one views him in the same way, Thadeous skips out on Fabious’s wedding to Belladonna (Deschanel), a virgin he had rescued during one of his adventures, and instead gets high and chases sheep with his squire, Courtney (Hardiker). While he’s wasting time, the wedding has been ambushed by evil wizard Lazar (Justin Theroux), a 19-year-old weirdo with three witch moms who steals Belladonna back and plans to impregnate her in five days, creating some wacko dragon baby that will help him take over the world. Desperate to find his love, Fabious decides it’s time for another quest – and his father, King Tallious (Charles Dance), sends Thadeous along too, hoping the younger son will finally gain some glory.

Up until this point in the film, there’s tons of cursing (with plentiful uses of the f-word, since “Your Highness” is rated R), some mimed sexual acts, an animated credits scene with nudity and sex, a gross decapitated Cyclops head, a humongous codpiece played for laughs and the typical jokes about being gay – “I want you to be gay with me and father,” Fabious tells Thadeous when encouraging him to be more gleeful about his upcoming nuptials. But when the quest starts, everything is ramped up to crazy low-brow territory, with nearly every scene including some kind of groan-inducing bad crack about farts, penises or sex. There’s a wise wizard who was a child molester and demands to be masturbated in exchange for help with their quest. A Minotaur with a humongous and erect package tries to rape one of the adventurers. Fabious gets bitten in the thigh by a poisonous snake, an opportunity for Thadeous to command Courtney to “suck it.” So much bad taste, so little time.

The film begins funny by introducing cursing and more self-awareness into the medieval mix – Thadeous has a particularly dirty mouth, dropping simple-but-effective lines like “I intend to get properly f—ed up” – but rapidly drops into awful territory with all the jokes about rape and molestation. McBride, Franco and Hardiker are each effective in their roles, especially because of McBride’s deadpan delivery and hedonism, Franco’s grinning good nature and campy determination and Hardiker’s straight man foil, but Portman is boring as the bloodthirsty beauty. Was she only in this movie so we could see her Oscar-winning butt in a metal thong? It’s in situations like those where “Your Highness” doesn’t work for laughs so much as it begs for them, going on a tried-and-true road of fart-and-sex jokes that will probably succeed with college-aged male audiences but really is boring for most others (and highly inappropriate for most younger than 17).

For parents with teens asking to see it, be warned: Scenes during the quest include someone eating an animal heart; a nude man’s butt (but no genitalia, because he doesn’t have any); lots of women’s nude breasts; bloody violence like pikes through people’s chests, cut-off fingers and a dead beast’s penis taken as a trophy; and jokes about anal sex, oral sex, all kinds of genitalia, rape, sex trafficking, torture, masturbation, and basically any other thing you wouldn’t want your kid to find funny.

I hope my wasted money is enjoying its new life in financial Neverland. And the chances of me sitting through “Your Highness” any other time – never again.





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