After Prince Fabious’s Bride is kidnapped, he goes on a quest to rescue her, accompanied by his lazy useless brother Thadeous.
Whenever I review a fantasy film, I feel as if I need to make an apology. Fantasy is the genre that I gravitate towards the most, and I will be the first to admit that there aren’t a plethora of great fantasy films out there. While many of these fantasy flicks aren’t the greatest, I still, somehow, find a small place in my heart for them. “Conan the Barbarian”, “Dragonslayer”, “Legend”, and “Beastmaster” might all seem like schlock to you, but to me, they’re prime entertainment. “Your Highness” is a parody of some of those schlockiest 80s action movies (think Roger Corman- like “Deathstalker” or “Sorceress”). This film specifically pokes fun at awful fantasy films by ascribing high and (predominantly) lowbrow humor to fantasy tropes like horrifically dark backstories, magic swords, wise old hermits, and doom-laden prophecies. Is this movie good? No; not in the traditional sense of the word. But, neither are the films it’s making fun of.
I feel like this film was somewhat misunderstood upon its reception. I, personally, find many of the scenes to still be hilarious, but that’s because I love fantasy so much. I feel like, for those who do love fantasy as much as I do, they’ll be willing to forgive the fact that probably only two-thirds of the jokes land. This movie might not be as tightly written as some of the other Apatow group comedies like “Pineapple Express”, “40 Year Old Virgin”, or “Knocked Up”, but it still has its moments.
“This quest sucks!”
After Prince Fabious’s (James Franco, “Spring Breakers”) bride to be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel, “The Happening”), is kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”), Fabious sets out on a quest to rescue her. Fabious’s father King Tallious (Charles Dance, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”) instructs Fabious to take with him his useless younger brother Thadeous (Danny McBride, “Arizona”) and Thadeous’s squire, Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker, “On Chesil Beach”). Upon their quest they run into Isabel (Natalie Portman, “Annihilation”), a mysterious warrior who might help them on their quest.
First and foremost this is a comedy film along the same lines of “40 Year Old Virgin” or “Pineapple Express”. The humor is relatively silly when it isn’t completely stupid, but therein lies the fun. I will admit that some jokes don’t work nearly as well as others. I read that the majority of this script was improvised, and that is pretty obvious. Danny McBride has a way of just spouting lines continuously, and as I mentioned above, only about two-thirds of the jokes land. Additionally, some of the jokes land far harder than others, so the film feels a bit uneven. For me, some of the funniest moments were the interactions between McBride and his squire, as he is needlessly cruel throughout. McBride has a way of making his hatred towards other characters seem juvenile and ridiculous, and that’s half the fun of this movie. Natalie Portman gives a surprisingly funny deadpan performance as Isabel. Her bloody backstory echoes the horrors of a thousand fantasy characters, and the way in which she so earnestly delivers her lines helps the ridiculousness of what she’s saying ring through.
Side Note: I always found it funny that one year prior to this film Natalie won an Oscar for “Black Swan”, and then she chose to do this film. I learned while researching this movie, that she took this role to finance “Black Swan” should financing fall through. However, “Black Swan” was green lit, and she was still contracted to do this job.
Another thing that I actually really appreciated from this film was the production design. This looks like a real high-budget fantasy flick; there are scenes with magic, Henson-esque puppets, and pretty impressive sets. It’s rare that you see this much effort (production design wise) put into a comedy film. I honestly think the reason this film failed at the box office was probably because it was relatively expensive to shoot compared to other Apatow movies like “Pineapple Express”. This movie just looks like so much work went into it, and in the end, it’s really only a middling movie.
For most people, I’m sure this film wont even register as a 3/5 star movie. I think a lot of jokes will go over people’s heads, referencing things that are far too outdated (like the annoying mechanical bird being a reference to the 1981 “Clash of the Titans”). However, there is an audience out there for these kinds of films, and I am one of those audience members. I can acknowledge the fact that as a film this movie is not very good, but as a comedy, it still strikes a few good notes with me.
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