D: David Gordan Green. DP: Tim Orr. W: Danny McBride & Ben Best. Starring: Danny McBride/James Franco/Natalie Portman/Zooey Deschanel/Toby Jones/Justin Theroux/Charles Dance/Damien Lewis.
Sporting the popular and busy couple of Natalie Portman and James Franco, who in the last year seem to be in almost every other movie, Your Highness jumps right into the pop culture seat and takes a fast drive. Joining this star team is co-writer Danny McBride, using his recent exposure on Eastbound & Down on HBO as high leverage to push his own work. Yet it all isn’t enough to really polish the film and make it funnier than gag comedy and one-liners. Even David Gordan Green couldn’t help, leaving his previous work on Pineapple Express the clear winner.
To start things off, Franco (although younger) plays McBride’s older, more successful brother who will soon be crowned king of the land and the lords. Returning home from his most recent quest, Franco’s Fabious (might has well have called him Fabulous) with a new blushing bride to be in Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel). Although sporting a Steve Nicks’ album title name and virgin status, Deschanel is sadly not given as much to do or really anything funny to say. Her chemistry isn’t hot with Franco, but in the end it doesn’t seem to matter. As the chemistry between Franco and younger Thadeous (McBride) is more important.
The brother’s chemistry is evident, at times laughingly inappropriate, but helps maintain the flow of the medieval story and make-believe element to the film. When Franco brings McBride on his next quest, which does not end up as planned, it is clear that the narrowly labeled “bromance” comedy thankfully doesn’t hurt the actors here. On this quest the boys meet Portman’s Isabel who has a taste for vengeance and fighting. Seeming more like her Star Wars character in a medieval setting, Portman is a bit wasted as audiences know she has comedy chops from No Strings Attached. With her it is clearly evident that the script needed to work/get to the next level it only scratched the surface of. And that will ultimately be the let down for whatever audience, whatever state they made be in…
However, I must say Your Highness does have a certain charm about it. Medieval imaginings and knights and ladies is a common theme for children (and sometimes adults) to play around with and springboard their make believe sessions. With more adult/teenage games such as Dungeons & Dragons around, this theme has even progressed into popular culture. So the film can at least be given credit for tapping into that realm of make-believe and thankfully, at times, making fun of it.