By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 5, 2011 at 7:37AM
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.
"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:
"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."
"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."