April 08, 2011

Your Highness

Please, put me out of my misery

Grade: F

Director: David Gordon Green

Starring: Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, and Zooey Deschanel

MPAA Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.

In a millennia when apes rules the Earth, it is quite likely their museums will display copies of Your Highness to memorialize the nadir of cinema during the time of the beast Man.

So awful is this waste of celluloid and so misbegotten is its premise that it is barely conceivable that real studios spent real money on it, or that real actors with real careers (and presumably real agents) waste months out of their professional lives participating in this dumpster fire of a film.

Your Highness is The Princess Bride if it was remade by Russ Meyer, and it’s not nearly that appealing. That the writers and director of this wretched rubbish all met while attending the North Carolina School of the Arts only adds local insult to injurious calamity.

Thadeous (Danny McBride) is an indolent, cowardly prince overshadowed by his young brother, the fabulous Prince Fabious (James Franco). When an evil sorcerer named Leezar (Justin Theroux) and his bevy of plasma-spewing witches kidnap Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel? Not you, too…), Fabious’ virginal bride, the two brothers embark on a quest to rescue Belladonna and save the kingdom from Leezar’s wicked plan.

What might that be, you ask? Well, it involves ravishing Belladonna the night two moons align in hopes that she will spawn a dragon that Leezar will use to conquer the world. Moreover, at the point of penetration, the witches cast a spell on Belladonna that makes her welcome Leezar’s impending penetration. Because, you know, rape is so hilarious.

Along the way, Thadeous and Fabious seek the counsel of a pedophilic, Yoda-like mystic that requires sexual satisfaction in exchange for his assistance. They’re captured by a grotesque forest warlord and his harem of half-naked henchwomen. And, an aroused Minotaur almost goes Deliverance on Thadeous’ man-servant until the prince detaches the creature’s genitalia and wears it as a spoil of victory.

Then there’s Isabel (Natalie Portman), a warrior princess whose own mission may or may not coincide with the princes’. Good for Portman that Your Highness did not drop before the Oscars or it would have been her Norbit.

Speaking of which, after his recent Oscar hosting misfire, this is Franco’s second utter failure of 2011. As for Danny McBride, well, you’re on 14 minutes and counting.

However, special scorn is due director David Gordon Green. His last comedy, Pineapple Express, was a mixed bag with more hits than misses. I hoped the film’s offbeat tone and popularity would rejuvenate Green’s standing as a director and give him the latitude to continue producing the critically acclaimed gems on which he founded his career, such as George Washington and All the Real Girls.

Instead, Green and co-writers/snooty film-school buddies McBride and Ben Best lace their repugnant plot with a nonstop barrage of vulgarities and other assorted scatology that is offensive chiefly because it is so unfunny. The 40th F-bomb heard in a Medieval milieu isn’t as amusing as the third or fourth.

Your Highness proves one of two things. Either Green has completely sold his soul to the Hollywood money machine such that he now willingly generates tripe over which he has no creative care or control, or he is so embittered over the commercial demise of his indie upbringing that he is now covertly sabotaging the movie industry from the inside out. Either way, shame on him.

Neil Morris

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