Bring much of the talent behind Pineapple Express back together, big things were expected of Your Highness, though crucially it isn’t Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s work on the script.
Set in ancient times, brothers Thadeous (McBride) and Fabious (Franco) are both warriors and heirs to their father’s kingdom, but couldn’t be any different in nature. With Fabious a natural fighter, athletic, charming and always triumphant, Thadeous feels overshadowed, but does little to boost his reputation. Lazy and crude, he’s far from King Tallious’ golden boy, but after Thadeous’ bride to be is kidnapped by an evil wizard, he’s forced to team up with his brother and go on a quest and at last prove himself worthy of the family name.
Joining Fabious’ motley swordsmen, soon the brothers have to break away and forge on just themselves, joined belatedly by an mesmerising femme fatale (Portman), but still several men down, as the final showdown soon occurs, Thadeous must find out if he can truly summon his potential within, or continue a failure as he has been in life to date.
Though relatively enjoyable on the whole, Your Highness falls far short of what it could, and definitely should, have been. The film is silly, but it revels in it, only Your Highness can’t quite turn its good-willed nature into comedy.
Featuring modern dialogue and phrases but in an olden style, it’s the interplay between the characters that generates much of the film’s comedy, but there still just aren’t enough laughs. To Your Highness’ credit, the could-be clichéd lines get much less tired than you’d expect by the end, only Natalie Portman in particular, struggles to pull the dialogue off. Since her Oscar-winning performance in Black Swan she’s appeared in a raft of studio films, and been more than disappointing in them all. Whether they were only ever bankers in her mind or if she really gave it all but came up far too short, Portman has seemed far from driven of late.
Danny McBride and James Franco, however, were much better, each effortlessly watchable with an on-screen chemistry that holds the film together. Perhaps surprisingly it’s the former that steals the show and see McBride move closer still to the comedy A-list.
Inoffensive and light-hearted, which in the end sort of saves it, if you go along with the silliness in the film and you’ll have fun, but Your Highness is still very hit and miss. Fans of McBride and David Gordon Green will find p arts to enjoy, but it will struggle to please a wider audience, and you’d probably be better waiting for Green’s The Sitter for your real R-rated comedy hit of the year.