Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Your Highness Review

You're making a fool of yourself. Handle your shit, Fabious, please.

It's strange, there is a part of me that thinks aspects of Your Highness  might be sublime; yet, the overall feeling upon leaving was that though it may be enjoyable in it's comforts, the film never truly pushes the comedic limits like it should have.

The bulk of the comedy comes from the often hilarious unscripted ad-lib of Danny McBride and the way his character interacts with those around him. McBride's character, Thadeous, is basically a more muted version of his "Kenny Powers" routine on East Bound and Down ; the crassness and vulgarity is still there in every single F-bomb, but the blind narcissism that makes McBride's "Kenny Powers" endearing is replaced by a slightly more whiny and self-conscious laden Thadeous.

Was that singing? Ugh, just keep wearing that dress...

Though some would say the biggest selling point of the film was the idea of Kenny Powers in a high-fantasy riff on movies like Kull the Conqueror  and Conan the Barbarian , a toned down and more nuanced McBride performance does not necessarily hurt the film. What truly hurts the film is that it actually takes itself too seriously in it's send up of those classic movies, spending too much time trying to make a passable fantasy movie AND comedy, thus undercutting the film in both respects. It's a film that not only causes some conflicting sentiment, but seems at its core conflicted with what it truly wants to be.

These mixed feelings present are a bit strange and hard to reconcile. It seems counter-intuitive that by trying to make a better and coherent movie, the comedy  has almost no room to grow outside its rigid plot points.

Sure, there are a few scenes that are played really loose, like when the Thadeous and his brother Fabious (James Franco, in a perpetually stoned performance) visit the bong/Seer, but there are never really any scenes of sheer lunacy and abandon (like the street fight scene in Anchorman ) that truly take this film to any new comedic heights. The engine that makes this comedy run is McBride's ad-lib, yet every other character is seemingly played straight with very little room to get weird or riff off of McBride that much. The story is pretty linear - following the quest's already mundanely prescribed plot points (find the magic sword by way of location X, so you can kill wizard Y), and not at all like the randomness you would expect (ala Harold and Kumar ) and crave in a typical stoner comedy.

That's not a special-effect, but it did have ONE

Every creature and set of effects are done like it would be in a big-budget fantasy movie, yet all these legit  trappings only seem to noticeably interrupt the comedy.  I don't need a big budget hydra that our heroes have to contend with, just give me more with the squire Courtney and the wizard Leezar. Leezar has some of the best lines of the movie, but the final confrontation just begs for verbal war with McBride's Thadeous that never materializes.

I admire the film for what it aspires to be, but the effect it has is, ironically, half-baked . It's good for a steady stream of smiles and chuckles, but you would have a better laugh in an hour of East Bound  than you will at any point during this film, which is pretty disappointing.


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