The fantasy genre is ripe for parody. After all, it’s incredible how we now accept dragons, swords and sorcery as so commonplace in stories that they no longer require any explanation. Sadly, Your Highness misses any opportunity for genuine wit and relies on a tiresome parade of endless dick jokes, bawdy sight gags and broad slapstick.
Second in line to the throne, Thadeous (Danny McBride) is a layabout oaf of a prince whose only interests are masturbation, getting stoned and canoodling with the opposite sex. He lives in the shadow of his successful older brother Fabious (a gurning James Franco), who’s just returned from his latest quest to the adulation of the local townsfolk and father (Charles Dance).
Fabious has brought with him his bride to be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel – apparently contractually obliged to sing in every single movie in which she appears) who he’s rescued from the tower of the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux).
Unfortunately Leezar has other ideas and steals her right back leading the two princes to team up in a quest to rescue her, accompanied by Fabious’s band of knights (including Damian Lewis and Simon Farnaby), court adviser Julie (Toby Jones) and Thaddeous’s faithful servant, Courtney (Rasmus Hardicker). Along the way Thaddeous must shed his stoner impulses in order to impress the comely Isabella (Natalie Portman), a ass kicking barbarian whose own quest intersects with theirs.
It could be the plot to any fantasy film you’d care to name – get the girl, destroy the wizard – so far so simple. But unfortunately the whole concept of the film is derailed by one central flaw – it’s not funny.
The writers Danny McBride and Ben Best think characters swearing in highfalutin, pseudo-English accents is the height of comedy - almost every conversation is bookended with an expletive. It’s initially amusing but soon wears extremely thin; this is a film which expects you to laugh simply because someone said a rude word. There’s also a perpetual fascination with boobs and penises - it’s the kind of humour that only works if you’re stoned or depressingly juvenile; it’s a screenplay that could have been written by Beavis and Butthead.
Comedy aside, Your Highness doesn’t even function well as an adventure. It takes ages to get going – it’s at least 30 minutes before anyone does any actual questing and the action scenes are about as exciting as a school bundle. One can only assume that the high profile cast agreed to do this because it was an opportunity to mess around on set – it’s just a shame that it was clearly a lot more fun to film than it is to watch.
There are occasionally amusing lines and the odd well-timed swear which prevent it from being wholly disastrous and McBride is curiously likeable despite the film’s failings (one can’t help but think he’s a lot funnier than is revealed by the film’s script) but for the most part Your Highness is a tedious, juvenile exercise aimed squarely at stoners, 15 year olds or the readership of Nuts magazine.