Imagine if you will, a fantastic realm born out of the mists of time – a world of legend, filled with mighty warriors brandishing gleaming broadswords forged from magic Unicorn horns. A mystic land where majestic dragons soar over the tallest castles, and horrible minotaurs prowl the passageways of the deepest labyrinths. A place full of wonder and mystery beyond comprehension, where noble knights embark on perilous quests to rescue beautiful virgin maidens from evil wizards…Now imagine a few of your former college stoner pals showing up in this fantastical kingdom with enough weed to satisfy an Allman Brothers concert crowd, while cracking endless dick jokes, and you’ll have a good idea of what Your Highness is all about.
Understandably, that reads like a premise devoid of any appeal beyond dudes who smoke lots of pot or own a ton of Dio and Tenacious D albums. However, the key factor that prevents Your Highness from being a forgettable descent into the muck and mire of vulgarity for vulgarity’s sake, is the terrific work of the ensemble cast led by Danny McBride as the bawdy Prince Thadeos, and his dashing knight brother, Prince Fabious, played by recent Oscar nominee James Franco. In the face of absurdities like randy, well-endowed Minotaurs, kinky pedophile wizards, metallic falcons, hooba-smokin’ satyrs, unicorns, cyclopses, and a menagerie of assorted medieval miscreants; McBride, Franco, and especially Natalie Portman as the warrior-Goddess Isabel, embrace the ridiculousness surrounding them – delivering their insane dialogue with sincerity and a complete lack of irony. If you can’t derive a hearty laugh from an Academy award-winning Best actress spouting lines like, “These feelings have burned in my beaver for years” with utter conviction, the charms of Your Highness will be lost on you.
One of the most surprising aspects of Your Highness is how capably it functions as a creative, energetic action/fantasy film. Set pieces like a rip-roaring medieval horse-and-carriage chase, and a final battle with the evil wizard Leezar and his creepy “Mothers” in his sinister, lightning bolt-riddled tower are zippily-paced, well-executed, and even outshine recent action blockbusters like the tedious Clash of the Titans remake, or the utterly lifeless Prince of Persia. This feat is accomplished despite the sophomoric (and mostly improvised script), because Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green and his cast create loveable, fleshed-out characters that you actually care about.
Your Highness takes the most ridiculous elements of fantasy movies like Ladyhawke, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, and even the original Clash of the Titans, and stirs in a healthy serving of stoner humor and perversion. The result is a ribald laugh riot that successfully marries Dungeons & Dragons players with the Pineapple Express crowd. Make no mistake, this film is jam-packed with silly, crude, juvenile, toilet humor, and I loved every minute of it. Rest assured, the film isn’t going to garner any attention during Awards season, but for anyone who appreciates swords-and-silliness, it’s destined to become a quotable comedy classic for eons to come.