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Your Highness - Blu-ray Movie Review

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Your Highness - Movie Review

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4 stars

Danny McBride is my knight in shining armor.  His comedic chops and loopy characters, always with their undeserved swagger, can rescue me from any prolonged mood of supernatural dourness that might be holding me captive.  His has been an advancing career of success and comedic gold that hat has been a fun one to watch.  From The Fist Foot Way to Tropic Thunder, my discussions have always revolved around moments of McBride.  Even with Up in the Air, I had to calm the Clooney waters with lines that went something like this, “Yeah, but did you see Danny McBride in it? Wasn’t that a great performance?”  Your Highness, bringing much filthy love to the fantasy genre, is one hell of a way to celebrate McBride’s cinematic knighthood.

Sword-and-sorcery movies are in abundance these days. Yet, they’ve grown up and become much more adult and serious these days (a reflection of the times, I suppose).  Their humor is gone and, while I don’t mind its absence most of the time, I do recognize the consequential pretentiousness of it all (sees Harry Potter 7). I also think there is room to incorporate a spirited romp from time-to-time in all the moments of furrowed brow. Typically, they aren’t filled with the glorious cheese like the ones of my youth (Conan, Red Sonja, Clash of the Titans, and The Beastmaster to name a select few), but I do miss the same youthful spirit that made them so … awful.

Prince Thaddeus (McBride) holds a bit of a grudge against the adventurous exploits of his brother Fabious (James Franco).  He doesn’t get the attention from his father and, as a result, he doesn’t attempt to earn it.  Thaddeus is content to be frolicking with his faithful manservant Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker) in fields of sheep and spells of herbal madness.  When Fabious returns to the kingdom with the freshly rescued Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), who is a bit of a misfit in that she has been held captive by the evil Leezar (Justin Theroux) for so long that she has no manners and little social graces, Thaddeus decides that he cannot be the Best Man in their wedding and abandons the duty in favor of those fields of sheep and one-handed plunder.

Leezar, justly angered by Fabious actions, descends upon the ceremony with vengeance and steals Belladonna away from Fabious and his soldiers.  Upon Thaddeus’ return, Fabious enlists him in their perilous journey to bring Belladonna back to the kingdom…before Leezar can rob her of her virginity and impregnate her with his demonic seed.  Along the way, Thaddeus will cross swords with a fighting female badass named Isabel (Natalie Portman), a purple-skinned, child-molesting Wise Wizard, and a Minotaur from whom he harvests a souvenir to mark the occasion you will not soon forget...maybe never.

With a script that is merely outlined by Ben Best, Your Highness is a comedic work of improvisation from its cast.  Knightly moments coined as ‘The Fuckening’ can only be explained by the team responsible for the royal high times, led by director David Gordon Green, and their willingness to try and do anything in a movie that aims to tickle your funny bunnies and stroke your sockets with dazzling puppetry (by Mike Elizalde and company) and special effects that simply do not suck.  Your Highness will do anything to make you laugh and that energy should be celebrated – even if all the jokes don’t make safe landings.

Franco, forever the squinty-eyed stud who appears to have just smoked a bowl o’ bud himself, is not the hero; he’s the companion as this is largely a film dominated by McBride.  Yeah, McBride plays the chicken – making every coward before him in the fantasy genre look every bit the King-sized material of heroes.  Yet, he does have his moment of parody in the heroic journey he faces.  With the help of Portman (who is hysterical in her female forcefulness), McBride gets the laughs and the empathy to make his the journey the audience cares about, but let’s not lose focus, this film is built for laughs and there are plenty outside of just the performances.

Subversive in its use of the supernatural (think Willow on acid) and offensive as hell in language, tone, and action at times, Your Highness won’t win over every audience member or critic (judging from the sheer amount of both that walked out on the screening I attended) with its penis-driven guffawing.  Still, if you’re already bowled-over with laughter 15 minutes in, then you’re in good hands and ready to be rocked by the rest of the medieval hysterics.  Humor in film is subjective, though.  If you haven’t even twitched that tightly-sewn mouth of yours by then, well, you should simply leave the theater because it’s not going to get any better…only morally and criminally worse.

Your Highness, with a titular spin toward pot and not plot, tokes the spirit of absurdity from within a mystical bong and puffs its straight into the face of all the sword-and-sorcery films of a by-gone era.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Your Highness - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for strong crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity, violence and some drug use..
Director
: David Gordon Green
Writer
: Danny McBride, Ben Best
Cast:
James Franco, Danny McBride; Natalie Portman; Toby Jones; Justin Theroux
Genre
: Comedy
Memorable Movie Quote:
"it's a trap. A booby trap."
Tagline:
This spring, prepare for their excellency; Get your quest on; Best. Quest. Ever.
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Official Site:
www.yourhighnessmovie.net
Release Date: April 8, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
August 9, 2012

Plot Synopsis: Throughout history, tales of chivalry have burnished the legends of brave, handsome knights who rescue fair damsels, slay dragons and conquer evil. But behind many a hero is a good-for-nothing younger brother trying just to stay out of the way of those dragons, evil and trouble in general. Danny McBride and James Franco team up for an epic comedy adventure set in a fantastical world--"Your Highness." As two princes on a daring mission to save their land, they must rescue the heir apparent's fiancée before their kingdom is destroyed.

Thadeous (McBride) has spent his life watching his perfect older brother Fabious (Franco) embark upon valiant journeys and win the hearts of his people. Tired of being passed over for adventure, adoration and the throne, he's settled for a life of wizard's weed, hard booze and easy maidens. But when Fabious' bride-to-be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), gets kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux), the king gives his deadbeat son an ultimatum: Man up and help rescue her or get cut off.

Half-assedly embarking upon his first quest, Thadeous joins Fabious to trek across the perilous outlands and free the princess. Joined by Isabel (Natalie Portman)-an elusive warrior with a dangerous agenda of her own-the brothers must vanquish horrific creatures and traitorous knights before they can reach Belladonna. If Thadeous can find his inner hero, he can help his brother prevent the destruction of his land. Stay a slacker, and not only does he die a coward, he gets front row seats to the dawn of an all-new Dark Ages.

{2jtab: Blu-ray/DVD Review}

Your Highness - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - August 9, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); Digital copy (as download); BD-Live; D-Box; Mobile features
Playback: Region A

Universal's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is a remarkably lit-up affair.  The lifelike flesh and color palette is both bold and coolly crisp as if baked by the sun itself.  The darker tones, revealed in shadows and night time scenes, are consistently level and thick with dark lines and illuminating ink.  Exciting and vibrant throughout, the picture performs well in spite of a few moments of crush and banding.  The rich DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track keeps things in check with a soul-thudding surround field that fills the picture with great immersive qualities.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • The laughs continue with the commentary provided by Director David Gordon Green, executive producer/co-writer/star Danny McBride and actors James Franco and Justin Theroux.  Yet, this track is pretty damn interesting, too.  McBride and Green discuss the making of the film and the challenges of the fantasy genre combined with comedy.  It’s a strong track that is forthcoming and honest.

Special Features:

Once again, Universal doesn’t fail the comedy genre.  The blu-ray offers two exciting versions of the film – the 103-minute theatrical cut and the unrated cut (which boldly goes even further with its raunch factor in an additional three minutes) – and a healthy dose of supplemental material.  There is a 30-minute documentary which is sharp and interesting as it covers the making of Your Highness.  Also included are some interesting alternative cuts and versions of scenes (as this film was largely improvisational) and, even if the material isn’t always successful, the 30-minutes pass quickly and are always interesting.  The Line-O-Rama laughfest continues and, with the addition of a couple of Leezar outtakes, the supplemental material is the icing on the madness cake.

  • Damn You Gods: The Making of ‘Your Highness’ (30 min)
  • Deleted, Alternate and Extended Scenes (26 min)
  • Gag Reel (5 min)
  • Line-O-Rama (4 min)
  • Perverted Visions (3 min)
  • A Vision of Leezar (3 min)

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