Considering we're huge fans of pretty much everyone involved, it's almost surprising that we've been cautious of the upcoming fantasy-comedy "Your Highness." But with David Gordon Green's previous studio comedy, "Pineapple Express," being far from a home-run, and a near-six month release delay, signs were beginning to stack up that the film could be yet another expensive, indulgent misfire from Universal. However, our man on the floor of New York Comic-Con flipped for the footage shown there, calling it "excellent, funny [and] thrilling," and now the rest of us have been able to catch up with what he was talking about, with the first widely available footage from the film making its way on to the internet, in the form of a red-band trailer on IGN.
And the good news is, we're fully in agreement: the extended three-and-a-half minute clip is one of the best trailers we've seen all year, and the film has skyrocketed up our most anticipated list for next year. Perhaps the most surprising thing is just how high-quality the production values seem: Gordon Green's definitely stepped up a gear here, with the production and costume design, effects work and cinematography (from the director's regular collaborator Tim Orr) all appearing to be top notch. Indeed, it looks more convincing than recent serious fantasy disasters like "Eragon" or "Percy Jackson"; no mean feat for what's essentially a fairly juvenile comedy.
And yes, the comedy does seem juvenile, but gloriously so -- there's more than one moment here that came close to making us spit white wine through our nose (most notably the attempt by evil wizard Justin Theroux to seduce Zooey Deschanel's virgin bride). Neither Danny McBride nor James Franco seem to be venturing too far from their comfort zones, but that's no bad thing -- and we're actually fairly impressed by their British accents, and indeed, most of those on display.
In fact, while McBride's character isn't a million miles away from the self-centered types he usually plays, it's also clearly no re-run of Kenny Powers, and it doesn't look like he'll be carrying the comedy on his own -- Franco's clearly playing the straight man, but rising British comedy talent Rasmus Hardiker (best known for Steve Coogan's "Saxondale") looks likely to steal some scenes, albeit not as many as Justin Theroux, whose wonky-toothed wizard looks to be a particular highlight. And Natalie Portman? Natalie Portman just looks badass.
The action also looks enormously impressive, and we wouldn't be surprised if this saw Gordon Green move onto some of those endless wishlists of helmers that circulate every time a big project comes up for grabs. It's certainly not going to be for everyone, and while its commercial prospects are still a little questionable, as far as we're concerned, this looks like a ton of fun and we're counting the days until its release on April 8th, 2011. Watch the trailer below, and click through to IGN for an HD version.