Review in a Hurry: James Franco and Natalie Portman let down their Oscar-coifed hairdos to get their Camelot on! Alongside the scene-stealing Danny McBride, they venture forth on a hilarious adventure that's as dirty as the dung our heroes trudge on.
The Bigger Picture: Stoner comedies, the really good ones, have a knack for feeling like the crazily, whacked out trips the herb-obsessed only think they had. For all we know, McBride and his co-writer Ben Best were in an altered state when they wrote this. Thankfully, the result is packed with clever writing and bereft of the usual "um" or "whoa" ramblings.
Fabious (Franco) is the favorite son of the kingdom and dutiful heir to the throne. His slacker brother Thadeous (McBride) not so much. He'd rather toke up and fondle sheep. So when a flamboyant sorcerer named Leezar (fantastic foil Justin Theroux) snatches up Fabious' bride-to-be Belladonna (an enchanting Zooey Deschanel), Thadeous couldn't care less. But the King (Charles Dance) wants Thadeous to aide his brother on this noble mission.
The story of Highness really isn't the main attraction, obviously. It's just an excuse to have McBride and Franco ride together, fight together, get defeated together, and then be rescued by Portman who plays Isabel, a not so fair lady on her own quest. In short, the trio have a most excellent adventure together.
Kudos to any production that makes a fantasy flick with an all American cast donning over-the-top British accents. Making every "come hither" and "your majesty" that much funnier.
Fresh off their recent Oscar duties, Portman and Franco are clearly having a ball playing in such a loose and untethered world. One that's with filled with a five-headed sexually suggestive snake, lightning zapping witches and one horny Minotaur.
Franco—unlike his emceeing at the Oscars—is so wide-eyed (and awake!) it's hard to believe this is the same guy who played the ultimate burnout on Freaks and Geeks. He's utterly convincing as traditional hero-type.
Portman seems like she's about to break character and burst out laughing at any moment. And we mean in a good way, she ends up more than a match for McBride's filthy wordplay.
This really is the Danny McBride show. Fans of his I'm-An-Angry-Loser schtick from Eastbound and Down now have one film that pretty much has all his best lines. You'll have to trust us, though, since all of it is not the kind that we can reprint here.
Directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express), Your Highness continues his strength for tales of bromance. Although Isabel is quite fetching with her super cool backflips and aerial attacks (all very CG-looking so we doubt any stunt double will want the credit), the heart of the picture is the relationship between two cool dudes.
If it isn't clear already, Highness earns its R for language, nudity and some mild gore. Though many scenes are not for the easily offended, rest assured these are well-told gags. The film might be deranged when it comes to sex and violence but the script never relies on easy fart and poop jokes. Most important of all, it earns all its laughs. And there are many.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Director Green is still not great at action scenes. The big set pieces and special f/x convince but to what end? True, they make more sense in a fantasy pic than in Pineapple Express, but either way the laughs come to a stop. Away with these most foul distractions!