A bride is kidnapped. A handsome elder brother and his younger, useless sibling must quest to rescue her from an evil wizard who lives with three witch women in a castle far away. On the way, they are duped repeatedly by a woman with an attitude. Sounds like a cross between Disney’s Hercules and an animated Camelot story. It’s not. What it is, is Your Highness, an R-rated, raunchy adventure featuring duplicitous romping and as much comedy crammed into 10 minutes as is often found in a whole film.
Popular Prince Fabious (James Franco) has just returned from his 40-somethingth quest, where he has just stolen a new bride, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), from under the nose of his mortal enemy, Leezar (Justin Theroux). In the meantime, his younger brother, Thadeous (Danny McBride), has spent his time fooling around with a midget king’s wife and smoking herbs with trolls out of large hookahs. Thadeous has earned the disdain of everyone in the kingdom, except his trusted squire, Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker), who isn’t afraid to cater to his master’s penis jokes and other whims.
Though Thadeous is lazy, self-centered, and incompetent at fighting, he is given the chance to redeem himself when Belladona is re-kidnapped by Leezar. On the road, Thadeous and Fabious encounter Isabel (Natalie Portman), a female fighter extraordinaire with several bones to pick with evildoers. Soon after, Thadeous loses Fabious to their mutual enemies, and he must confront his manhood, join forces with Isabel, and prove there are true heroics somewhere within his person in order to save his brother and the wildly hot Belladonna from being ravaged.
With a plot that is in some moments a fine example of idea-comedy and in other moments a straight-up fantastical action adventure, there are bound to be some snags. Action sequences drag on. Simon, a mechanical bird, and certain other characters are input for the sake of one or two jokes. And whatever Franco is trying to do with his innocent-but-heroic character is a little too morally G-rated to really suit the rest of the film.
Most of this is easily forgiven. Fabious disappears for a decent portion of the film, giving us time to invest in Courtney and Thadeous’ relationship, which is based on the blunt witticisms we’ve come to know from McBride’s characters and wildly hilarious, innocuous side comments from Courtney. Even the action sequences are peppered with sucking-venom jokes and minotaur penises, and when they are over, that’s mostly what we remember. Even when the plot encounters a snafu, or one too many a genital reference is made, the moment is always redeemed by a bit of physical comedy or a truly ingenuous remark.
The Unrated Version on the disc is even filthier than what we got in the theater, and that is meant in the best way possible. At one point, Belladonna and Fabious work in a cervix joke that is the best moment either of them have in the whole goddamn film. We’ve had a full summer of R-rated raunch comedies, but none of them have tried a premise as wacky and outside-the-box as Your Highness. Because the concept works from a medieval and quest-oriented standpoint, the film does occasionally shoot itself in the foot or lose us for a moment. However, Your Highness always brings us right back, and its motivations are as pure as the weed consumed in its first 40 minutes. It’s some good shit.
I love how when you switch between the theatrical and unrated versions the disc asks if you are sure you are making the proper choice. It’s really easy to fuck up which version you are about to watch, and the extra button is extremely courteous,
The extras begin with a long line of alternate scenes, deleted scenes, and extended scenes. What is up with forcing Zooey Deschanel into ridiculous musical numbers in every film role she pursues? It may have worked for Elf, but everyone else needs to get over it. After the lengthy extended scenes, there is a gag reel. Normally, the one time I like the gag reel is when there are legitimately funny people ad-libbing. Most of the reel, though, is Franco and Natalie Portman flubbing their lines. It’s rather meh. There is a “Line-O-Rama” later that is what a gag reel often is, which is actually fucking hysterical.
Other special features include a “Making Of” segment, a weird puppet segment, “A Vision of Leezar” featuring Justin Theroux, which makes me think twice about why Jennifer Aniston would date this asshat, and commentary with a slew of cast and crew members including director David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, James Franco, and Theroux. Don’t bother with logging in to BD Live. It’s mostly shit from one advertising standpoint or another. Overall, though, the disc is loaded. Since comedies often have the better outtakes, they are absolutely worth a view. The Line-O-Rama is worth two or three.