Best Movies of All Time + Zooey Deschanel



Your Highness is a 2011 action comedy directed by David Gordon Green that follows the story of two princes as they venture on a quest to save the eldest brother's bride-to-be. When Prince Fabious (James Franco) returns from a quest with a young maiden named Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), he tells the kingdom that he intends to marry her immediately. This causes quite a stir with Fabious's younger brother, Prince Thadeous (Danny McBride) who believes that Fabious has always stolen the spotlight from him. On the day of the wedding, the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux) kidnaps Belladonna in order to use her in a sacrificial ceremony that will grant him power over an unstoppable dragon. Fabious immediately sets after the wizard, and he drags a reluctant Thadeus alongside him. Joined by Thadeus's man-servant Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker) and teaming forces with a mysterious young warrior named Isabel (Natalie Portman), the two princes set out to rescue the distressed damsel and save the entire kingdom.

I originally heard about Your Highness last summer after a friend was able to see an advance screening of the film, and I had anxiously awaited its release from that point forward. When you have a film that stars now Oscar-nominee James Franco and now Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, you can be sure that expectations may be a little bit high. Unfortunately, I felt as though Your Highness fell a little bit flat, but it has nothing to do with either aforementioned Oscar-nominated star.

No, there's a couple of issues with this film that stand strikingly strong above anything that resembles "goodness." For starters, there's some serious issues with the screenplay. While the storyline is a tad predictable, it services well and proves to be rather inventive, even if we know exactly where it's headed all throughout. However, "inventive" doesn't necessarily save a film from being convoluted; it almost seemed as though the plot moved from one instance to the next without having any real segue between scenes. There's enough cohesion between the story's parts to make it understandable, but at times, I was scratching my head in wonder of why a particular scene needed to be in the film. The biggest problem with the screenplay, however, is the issue of dialogue. A lot of this has to do with the fact that Danny McBride is our lead - more on that in a moment - because we get the necessary drivel accompanied by many of his on-screen characters. The filmmakers could have had a soaring action comedy, but they chose instead to weigh it down with over-sexualized dialogue that would appeal mostly to teenage boys. Beneath all the raunchy jokes and necessity for on-screen nudity, there's a good film hidden; unfortunately, there's just no way anyone could ever dig it all out.

On with the acting. As previously stated, I have no real issue with either Franco or Portman's performances. Franco brings a boyish whimsy to his role, and you get the sense that despite Fabious's many accolades, he has yet to truly grow into manhood. Isabel is a stone-cold killer for most of the film, and Portman brings a strong masculinity to the role that plays rather effectively. Some of the supporting characters, such as Hardiker's Courtney and Theroux's Leezar, are good for a couple of laughs here and there, but they're mostly expendable. No, the real issue here is McBride himself. Being that he co-wrote the screenplay, I can only think that he wrote it mostly with himself in mind to play the lead. As I explained in my review of 2011's The Green Hornet, where Seth Rogen proved to be similarly guilty, writing a role specifically for oneself may not always be the best way to go. McBride stands out too conflictingly in his role, and in my opinion, it brings the film down a notch or two... or ten.

I do have to say that Steve Jablonsky, who has scored films like 2005's The Island and the Transformers franchise, provides some very good musical accompaniment for this film. The sweeping orchestral forms provide an epic-like backdrop for the movie, and in this case, it wholly succeeds.

Overall, Your Highness is probably a movie that you can miss, but I'm sure plenty of people will venture to theaters to see it. It's going to ride on the fact that it's by the guys who brought us 2008's Pineapple Express, but Your Highness doesn't come close to reaching that movie's potential. If you're interested in some big, stupid fun, then this movie might be right up your alley, but if you're looking for something slightly more credible than potty humor, please steer clear.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: C-
0.5 Thumbs Up

2011, action, adventure, comedy, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green, James Franco, Justin Theroux, movie review, Natalie Portman, Rasmus Hardiker, Steve Jablonsky, Your Highness, and more:

Relevant to: YOUR HIGHNESS + Zooey Deschanel