Somewhere between seeing Pineapple Express, Eastbound & Down and Your Highness is when I realized that I can’t get enough of director David Gordon Green. All of his latest comedies always hit the right notes with me and I love it. Where most call it dumb or stupid I call it hilarious and entertaining. Mostly because Green knows how to get really funny moments from his actors and partially because there is one guy that is in all three of those pieces of work that I’ve mentioned, Danny McBride. McBride is at a point in his career where he is either a love it or hate it type of actor. His comedy is usually dark, dirty and inappropriate. His most likeable character is that of Red in Pineapple Express and he wasn’t all that likable in that movie either, trying to rat out James Franco and Seth Rogen‘s characters almost immediately, but later realizing that they are his friends. McBride has a certain type of humor that just doesn’t work well with everyone, but fortunately for me I love it, which brings us to Your Highness. A cross between a stoner comedy and a cheesy fantasy film that could have been a disaster if in the hands of lesser men, but luckily the teaming of David Gordon Green and Danny McBride resulted in one very funny film.
Thadeous (Danny McBride) is a prince with wasted potential. He spends most of his free time getting high or fooling around with the ladies, while making jokes at his “sidekick” Courtney’s expense. Thadeous does nothing with his talent because people know he’s a fuck up and they see him as one. The prince that gets all the glory is his brother Fabious (James Franco). Fabious returns to the village with a beautiful lady named Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) who he plans to marry, but Belladonna has been trapped in a castle by the evil Leezar (Justin Theroux) who has important plans for Belladonna, so he snatches her back up and puts her back in the castle. This leads to Fabious starting a quest and lazy brother Thadeous getting tossed along with him.
Somewhere along the path to rescue our two heroes (and one noble sidekick) run into Isabel (Natalie Portman), a young lady who’s seeking revenge on the evil Leezar. She decides to join the gang, which makes for an even more epic quest. We follow the group as they slay countless monsters by way of arrows and swords. Your Highness is your basic stoner comedy at heart with a great feel for an 80’s fantasy film. There is a lot of wizardry at hand here and it all mixes very well. The comedy is very effective due to the delivery of lines by McBride, Franco and even Portman. McBride talks with an accent of the times, yet he drops in crass and vulgar comments that sound like something he would say in modern times. Mixing curse words with the polite way of medieval times makes for a lot of spot on jokes.
It’s these very funny jokes that carry Your Highness. The whole cast has a very laid back connection that makes for easy delivery of jokes. They feel natural when said and never off putting. That being said, the film contains a lot of fantasy violence. Leezar uses spells and tricks to defend his castle while Thadeous and Fabious battle with a Minotaur amongst other enemies. Your Highness is high on the blood content for such a silly film. Blood sprays and spills as our princes slit throats and stab guts.
It is no secret that Your Highness is Danny McBride‘s film. James Franco is funny in his little moments, but McBride gets the bigger portion of the laughs. He’s perfect at playing the cocky and lazy loser who acts like a child most of the film. His agenda is the only one that is important to him and he’d rather get stoned and laugh at midgets then be a brave and noble prince. Sure, McBride plays this same character in almost everything, but it’s because it’s what he does best. He always manages to get a ton of laughs from me out of these similar roles and I honestly wouldn’t mind if he keeps making films like this. He is one of those rare actors/writers that does dark comedy well and I think he should stick with it.
Natalie Portman does fine in her role, but you can tell it was just a quick and probably fun paycheck after last year’s Oscar winning Black Swan. I don’t mind when actresses of her caliber take these types of roles because it allows for them to sit back and relax while still being on screen. She doesn’t steal any scenes, but she’s still good in her little role.
Overall, Your Highness is one of the funnier films of 2011, but it’s certainly not for everyone. Even if you liked a film like Pineapple Express, I’d still suggest approaching this film with caution as it’s mainly a Danny McBride feature. If you love his HBO show Eastbound & Down or even the Jody Hill directed mall cop movie, Observe & Report, then I’d say you will love Your Highness. It’s that classic McBride character thrown into a fantasy film with a ton of smoking. Its Pineapple Express meets Eastbound & Down and it’s great.
To read my full theatrical review for Your Highness, click here.
Video: Universal Studios provides Your Highness with a very striking 1080p video transfer. The film is full of bright colors during their quest and they shine on Blu-ray. The image is always clear with fine detail and the skin tones are very lifelike. I doubt Your Highness could look any better than this.
Audio: Your Highness comes to Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is spellbinding. Every sword fight and magic spell can be heard with the utmost clarity. All the channels are very active, with the bulk of the sound taking place in the front. The back speakers act as background noise for the clashing of swords and destruction effects. This is a very loud and entertaining mix that compliments the video transfer very well.
Your Highness features a decent batch of special features, which can be viewed below.
- Audio Commentary: Director David Gordon Green, writer/star/producer Danny McBride and actors James Franco and Justin Theroux deliver a very informative and insightful commentary. It’s full of discussion and dissection on how they wanted to the make the film and the challenges you face when making a comedy/fantasy film. It’s very interesting and funny, thanks to the chemistry between the four men.
- Damn You Gods: The Making of Your Highness (HD): a very good documentary on the making of the film. McBride and the rest of the crew discuss the production while dropping in the usual laugh.
- Deleted, Alternate and Extended Scenes (HD): A decent batch of scenes that are funny for the fans, but passable for those not diggin’ the quest!
- Gag Reel (HD): A funny gag reel including the cast.
- Line-O-Rama (HD): a batch of improvised lines.
- Perverted Visions (HD): A second set of outtakes.
- A Vision of Leezar (HD): A short look at the character Leezar.
- My Scenes Bookmarking.
- Your Highness features two cuts of the film, a 103 minute R-rated theatrical cut and a 106 minute unrated cut.
Overall, Your Highness is not for everyone. It’s a very hit or miss comedy that only works if your into its particular humor. The fantasy elements are great and the effects look really nice on Blu-ray. Universal has granted the film with a very clean and bright video transfer as well as a loud and active audio track that makes for a lovely home video package. The special features are interesting and more importantly entertaining. You can tell the whole cast and crew had a blast filming Your Highness and it really shows in the end product. Danny McBride proves yet again that he can lead a film and carry his own weight when sharing screen time with Oscar caliber actors and actresses like James Franco and Natalie Portman. The humor is stupid, immature and often inappropriate, but that’s what makes it all the better! The unrated cut offers up a few more laughs, but it’s nothing drastically different from the theatrical counterpart. If you enjoyed it in theaters than this is a must buy, due to both versions of the film along with excellent transfers in both the video and audio departments, plus the decent batch of extras. For everyone else Your Highness might be best viewed as a rental!
Movie – 8/10
Video – 9/10
Audio – 9/10
Special Features – 8/10
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