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Your Highness Early Reviews: "Utterly Batshit Insane, Misguided, Chaotic, Teenage Titillation"

by Anne Thompson
April 5, 2011 7:37 AM
4 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood


Your Highness opens April 8 with Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel (trailer below). Pineapple Express's David Gordon Green directs. The script comes from McBride and his Eastbound & Down co-writer Ben Best.

This amiable, noisy action comedy basically gets its laughs by adding contemporary swear words to your standard British period quest adventure. Franco makes a fine straight romantic hero, with Deschanel as his lovely intended, kidnapped by Justin Theroux's evil, lusty wizard--by far the best performance of the lot. McBride is occasionally amusing as Franco's bumbling black sheep brother, who is forced by their father the King (Charles Dance) to earn his manhood by joining the crown prince's quest to save his bride. And by Jove he does, with considerable help from athletic Natalie Portman, putting a feminist spin on the usual heroics. The movie is funny enough, if not hilarious, to do some business with a younger audience.

ThePlaylist gives the film its strongest review so far. The rest of the critics (sampled below) are less than impressed with this blatantly low-brow comedic genre-mashup.

Caryn James:

"Your Highness is so chaotic it sometimes loses sight of its mockery and raunchiness altogether and threatens to become a Disney action movie. The brothers and Isabel face a tentacled dragon, and the climactic end offers up lightning bolts flying from magicians’ hands and bodies zooming through the air. It’s all pretty much a mess...I wouldn’t entirely agree with Thadeous when he says,  as he does in the trailer below, 'This quest sucks.'  (And what were the writers thinking, giving us such an easy invitation to ridicule?) It semi-sucks."

James Mottram, TotalFilm:

Thompson on Hollywood


"Where Your Highness scores is in the casting…Where it falters is in the script, which is under the impression that the word ‘fuck’ is always the perfect substitute for a witty riposte. A pity, because there are some cracking ideas here – not least the rudest puppet since Peter Jackson’s Meet The Feebles, a weed-smoking sorcerer who has evidently been copping a feel of Fabious since he was a nipper…it’s really all about teenage titillation: swearing, boobs (a whole village of nude savage women) and Natalie Portman bathing in a thong. But if like your humour strictly below the waistline, get behind this posse…But if you seek sophistication, raise the drawbridge."

Kirk Honeycutt, THR:

"It’s hard to locate the joke the filmmakers even think they’re telling. McBride’s character is a dope-smoking masturbator wandering through an absurd world making lame, anachronistic wisecracks, but nothing here is the least bit funny. Or rather it earns laughs only in the pathetic sense. Then this worm's turn happens, oddly enough, off-screen and without any real motivation. Sorry, the word 'motivation' does not belong in a review of Your Highness. Indeed, speaking of motivation, the only excuse for the film’s existence is a misguided act of friendship in the case of Green and McBride and for everyone else a paycheck."

Marshall Fine:

Thompson on Hollywood


"McBride’s shtick is getting old – made older still by the fact that, while McBride understands the attitude, his writing is never all that funny. That’s certainly the case with Your Highness, a movie that hoists and then drops several potentially funny notions, even as it hammers at all the knee-jerk laughs that come from that sure-fire witticism: 'fuck'…Franco makes a terrific foil for McBride and is never less than interesting – and occasionally even funny. But the script does no one any favors…And really - why focus on creating actual comedy when you can just have someone say 'fuck'?"

Drew Taylor, ThePlaylist:

"…thankfully, the playful, irreverent spirit, gutbusting crudeness and general go-for-broke-ness that the cast and crew—led by director David Gordon Green—approach the material has turned, as if through magical transmogrification, a potentially messy experiment into a ridiculous, yet bold, stylistically winning genre-mash up that will leave you in stitches...It’s goofy, for sure, and profane, and utterly, batshit insane (bow down to the Minotaur penis scene), but it carves out its own bizarro groove. You may not laugh your ass off (though you likely will), but you’ll at least be impressed by a studio comedy as boldly strange and gorgeously photographed as this."


4 Comments

  • Hannah Torres | June 7, 2011 12:02 PMReply

    Director Ewing Miles Brown says Sam Botta has lost 74 lbs (now 150 lbs.) for Movie Tech Studios pre-production of "Live Fearless" Sam Botta Hosts the upcoming reality TV show. :) in Pre-Production now with guests like Betty White, who says "Appreciate life while it's happening!" Also "get over it" (referring to aging) and "I'm swimming as fast as I can" in reference to her work.

  • Anne Thompson | April 6, 2011 4:07 AMReply

    I second that emotion. Must-sees out there now include Jane Eyre and Win Win. And the funniest movie in theaters (hopefully, still) is Cedar Rapids.

  • Sergio | April 6, 2011 2:25 AMReply

    Talking to friends who have already seenit, they totally agree with the advance word that it's truly awful. The trailers alone were enough to keep me away. It looked dreadful and besides I had just endured that Arthur remake and didn't feel like sitting though another bad movie. (And I agree with Ryan that Eastbound and Down is good, but his shtick can wear really thin)

    The big question is how did Franco and Portman get involved in a mess like this? O.K. Franco because he's a buddy of Green. But still he could have said: "Hey wait this needs a lot more work before we go in front of the cameras"

    The film was supposed to come out last fall but held back because possibly: 1) Universal knew what they had and knew it was a loser and 2) Portman's people pressured the studio to hold up the release for fear of ruining her Oscar chances. Does does have that much clout?

    On the good side if you haven't, PLEASE go see Jane Eyre. Really really terrific!

  • Ryan | April 5, 2011 7:51 AMReply

    What I don't understand is this evaluation of Danny McBride as a one-joke performer who's grown tired. "Eastbound & Down" is universally acclaimed and Danny McBride gives a devastating performance on that show, showing the dark side of the man-child type made famous by Will Ferrell and the Apatown crew.

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