Monday, April 11, 2011

YOUR HIGHNESS - Reel Rhino Review

1.5 of 5 Horns

I like to think I am, not to be corny, a hip person. I am keen to trends and the…cringe…zeitgeist of popular culture and especially of cinema. I am not a proper trained cinephile, but I have studied at the school of hard knocks. I leave my brain turned-on, even during the most mindless of films. I think that I have met my match.

YOUR HIGHNESS has challenged my ability to think logically about a film while watching it. This film is very clearly a “stoner flick,” and I say that without an ounce of judgment in the statement. In fact, I am here to say that I think that this film may possibly be an insult, even to the stoners of the world.

I have shared in the past my disdain for dick and fart jokes, solely for the sake of dick and fart jokes. When used properly, a dirty bit of potty humor can be hilarious (See also, There’s Something About Mary).

Your highness spouts an unrelenting torrent of toilet humor, that hits a decent laugh about one out of every four jokes.

Written by Danny McBride and Ben Best, whose previous work together has been up and down…the up being the darkly hilarious EASTBOUND AND DOWN and the down being the dementedly dark THE FOOT FIST WAY. If you haven’t seen Foot Fist, avoid it. It has the gall to put children into the humor, exposing early teens to drug use and sexual situations that are likely to make the boldest moviegoer squeamish.

As for Your Highness, there was nothing exceptionally offensive to me, it was just a slew of juvenile humor, delivered as if spouted by the class bully, everyone chuckling, but out of pity, rather than entertainment.

What’s the saying? Even a blind dog finds a bone once in a while? I think that applies here to the jokes that do catch on. There is such an unrelenting torrent of garbage, you can’t help but find a laugh here or there.

I reference Roger Ebert, one of my critical heroes, who opens his review with the following paragraph:

“Your Highness” is a juvenile excrescence that feels like the work of 11-year old boys in love with dungeons, dragons, warrior women, pot, boobs, and four-letter words. One of the heroes even wears the penis of a minotaur on a string around his neck. I hate it when that happens.

Danny McBride is a funny man. He has been compelling in somewhat of a dramatic role, in Up in the Air. He has turned up in 10 or so comedic roles in the last few years, one of my favorites having been HOT ROD.

David Gordon Green has achieved great critical success with his early work and has entered into the popular culture as a prominent director on the Eastbound & Down series and perhaps more prominently in 2008’s PINEAPPLE EXPRESS.

This film stars, in addition to McBride, one of this year’s Best Actor nominees, James Franco; this year’s Best Actress winner, Natalie Portman, and a slew of classically trained actors, including Charles Dance, Toby Jones, and Damian Lewis.

Rounding out the prominent of the cast, include Justin Theroux and Zooey Deschanel. Theroux, a talented actor/writer who in 2010, gave us the screenplay for IRON MAN 2 and in 2008 the screenplay for TROPIC THUNDER, but may be best known for some of his character roles. Deschanel is just plain adorable as always and of course is known for a variety of successful features, perhaps my favorite of which is Elf. As talented as an actress as she is a singer, she always delights.

So why have I gone to such extreme to list the countless talents featured in this film? Because they are all completely wasted!

I was exceptionally mad to see the base role that was relegated to Damien Lewis. His name may not be so prominent, but everything he has done to date has been pure gold…well maybe not DREAMCATCHER, but I still chalk that up as campy fun. Lewis was fantastic as Dick Winters in BAND OF BROTHERS and his series life was cancelled far too soon, as it was compelling as a series and presented Lewis’s Charlie Crews as a rich and complex character.

They were all completely wasted here, and it blows my mind that with all this talent, no one realized as this film was being made, the pure rubbish that each scene would become.

The basic story is McBride and Franco are brothers, who must quest to save Franco’s bride to be, Deschanel, from the evil wizard Lazar, played passionately by Theroux. They are joined on their quest by Portman.

Calamity and so-called hilarity ensues…except only it doesn't.

I think the principal cast will be forgiven for their efforts. Most of the acting was wholly competent. McBride delivers almost every single dirty bit that’s offered, and the rest of the cast essentially plays straight to McBride’s comic foil.

Theroux is a talented character actor and I think his mastery of assuming odd roles shines here. He is off-the-wall, but he is the lone character successful when it comes to dishing ridiculous. I think that his success is mostly derived from spouting actually witty lines, as opposed to the torrent of dick and fart nonsense that McBride has to offer.

They try for a neat animated misses.  They throw in a mechanical bird companion, a la CLASH OF THE misses.  It...ahh, I'm done beating the dead horse here.

I am torn as to how to rank this film. For one, I think those best equipped to review this film would be those who were under the influence of Ms. Mary Jane while watching. Clearly, these folks are the intended target. It just seems like the budget was big and the cast was lined deep with talent, for something targeting stoners.

Again, I am torn. There were a lot of talented people at play and should they be punished for McBride’s foul delivery. And for McBride…every fourth joke did hit the funny bone...should that go unrewarded? 

I think the best I can do here is a 1.5 of 5 horns rating for this effort. I do not recommend seeing this at the theater. I instead offer that this may be decent for home viewing with friends. I cannot say I would ever choose to view under the influence suggested by the film, but I do suppose that a few beers and some good friends my up the joke hit rate to 2 out of every 4. I don’t suppose I will see this again, and I can only say that I hope that all those involved make more wise choices for their next outing in cinematic entertainment.

Yikes…at least it shows I don’t blank check love everything that I see!

I have said before how I can forgive a bad film when I think about the blood, sweat, and tears that those who are passionate about the material have shed. A film like YOUR HIGHNESS falls outside of this category. A studio film made by loads of highly successful people…my forgiveness only runs so deep.

For now, I am re-visiting the Harry Potter series. I eagerly await the release of Deathly Hallows Pt. II. The first entry in the finally made my top-ten of 2010. These have graduate from juvenile fantasy into quality genre cinema, fit for adult and youth alike. I am into Prisoner of Azkaban right now and this is definitely where things take a markedly dark turn, and all for the better for this series. Add Gary Oldman into any film series and you can expect good things to happen. Not just because of him, but his character rich offering brought so much to the role of Sirius Black. This film succeeds not only because of him, but because it is the first of the series to deal with death and loss, beyond the overall theme of Harry dealing with the loss of his parents. This series from start to finish presents coming of age as few other films or series have through time.

I look forward to July 15th, with great anticipation.

I hope to see Jane Eyre this week…if so, you know I’ll be hollering about it soon.

Please check out my new gig...I have found a second home with the folks at BlinkinBlogs and you can find me there, crossing over some of the Reel Rhino wisdom when it comes to all things movies.

Till next time…take care.



  1. Good review bro. I was actually going to go see it before I read your review, thanks for saving my entertainment dollars in this economy :)

  2. oh hey! There's that guy again. Did you get my text? I texted you last night to ask you if you ever saw Eastbound and Down or Land of the Lost because that guy really reminds me of Coach Knablein. O.K. Can-abes.