Film Review “Your Highness”

Starring: Danny McBride, James Franco and Natalie Portman
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hours 42 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

The great stoner-comedy team of Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong made six movies together. Seven if you count their showing up in the Graham Chapman comedy “Yellowbeard.” In all of their years together, the duo never made a film that dealt with swords and minotaurs and wizards. Now, with the release of “Your Highness,” they don’t have to.

While his brother, Prince Fabious (Franco), is off battling dragons and everything that is evil, Prince Thadeous (McBride) is content to lie around the castle, smoking his herbs and banging the occasional chambermaid. When Fabious returns home, with his soon to be bride Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) in tow, he stuns Thadeous by asking him to be his best man. But before the wedding begins, Belladonna is kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux). Their father, King Tallious (Charles Dance) sends his sons out to retrieve Belladonna and destroy Leezar, beginning an adventure they will both remember.

A slapdash assortment of various genres, “Your Highness” plays like “The Princess Bride” meets “Clash of the Titans” with a little bit of “Up in Smoke” thrown in for good measure. The script, by McBride (who for some reason credits himself as Danny R. McBride for his writing credit) and his long time writing partner Ben Best, borrows heavily from each of those films but never seems to decide which one it wants to be. The comedy is strictly adult, with language that surely wasn’t around in Medieval times. Of course, I couldn’t believe the stuff that came out of Ian McShane’s mouth on “Deadwood” so maybe the Knights of the Round Table did drop the occasional “F” bomb.

The cast itself seems equally confused. Franco seems to think he’s still in “Tristan + Isolde.” I’m curious if he knew the film was a comedy. McBride, who also created the indelible character of Kenny Powers on HBO’s “Eastbound and Down,” has most of the good lines and he makes the most of them. Portman shows up midway through the film looking like Princess Leia trying to free Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt in “Return of the Jedi.” As Belladonna, Deschanel mostly has to scream and open her eyes really wide. Theroux seems to be having the most fun and chews the scenery as if it was his last meal.

For a comedy the special effects are pretty well done, including a scene where Franco battles a five headed snake.

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