Imagine The Princess Bride spilling into the world of Willow, then add liberal lashings of Cheech and Chong-esque stoner humour and you’re somewhere close to Your Highness, the follow-up to director David Gordon Green’s previous weed-tinged comedy, Pineapple Express (which featured the two leads here).

Danny McBride (also onboard as co-writer) is the slacker prince Thadeous, a lazy and thoughtless member of royalty who would rather spend his days toking on medieval hash pipes and chasing sheep around outside the castle walls with faithful servant/plaything Courtney (the fabulously monikered Rasmus Hardiker) than attend the wedding of his older, more successful brother Fabious (James Franco). He is finally forced to buck his ideas up when his brother’s fiancé Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel, reunited with her All The Real Girls director) is kidnapped by an evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux).

Double-crossed by their own supposedly loyal band of knights and subjects (including respected character actor Toby Jones, who has a touch of an Oompa Loompa about him here) the two princes have to go it alone (with Courtney in-tow) on a mission to rescue the fair maiden. Their journey brings them into contact with a warrior girl (Natalie Portman) who has her own agenda for revenge against Leezar and together they embark on a race against time before the twin moons meet and the sex-starved wizard has his wicked way with Belladonna.

First things first, your capacity to enjoy this film may rest on whether you find the insertion of swear words into the actor’s faux ye olde English delivery to be constantly amusing. If that sounds like something you may get a kick out of, a fun time ahead you shall be privy to.

Sure, the film is crude and foul-mouthed, and sometimes aims for childish and cheap laughs, but it’s also a handsomely-shot and well-directed film, with some incredibly imaginative fantasy set-pieces (the finger dragons are a genius creation) and a group of performers who really inject a lot of fun into proceedings. Anyone familiar with McBride’s hilarious HBO comedy series Eastbound & Down will know what to expect from the actor here. Thadeous has Kenny Power’s vulgar ignorance and the same unimpressed, nonchalant look in his eyes, which really works a treat juxtaposed in this heightened fantasy world. Franco is fun too, and he appears to be channelling (intentionally or not) those blander-then-bland hunks from previous sword and sorcery epics. Theroux also delightfully hams it up with his villainous character and cranks up the pantomime factor tenfold.

Star of the moment Natalie Portman (wonder if she would have signed on here after wining her statuette?) doesn’t crop up until the one hour mark and plays it mostly straight, but is a good sport and is full of steely resolve, and is more than able to muster up some of that agility and nimbleness which was on display in Black Swan.

The creative team clearly have an affinity for the fantasy films from their childhood, and there are gentle riffs on the likes of Beastmaster, Clash of the Titans and Krull. There’s even a Muppet-like creation in the form of a weird bug-eyed, bong-totting wizard with paedophilic tendencies which really has to be seen to be believed. It’s the kind of character which Jim Henson may have conjured up if he had taken a more subversive and underground route with his creations.

Your Highness may not find itself in the pantheon of comedy greats anytime soon, but it’s a fun and entertaining flick, which once again proves that former indie auteur Green has a good grasp of knockabout, comedic mainstream fare.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Your Highness
Previous articleLittle White Lies Review
Next articleSXSW – Caught Inside Review
Mild-mannered civilian by day, passionate cinephile and dedicated blogger at night, my obsession began with seeing the image of Luke staring wistfully at the two stars of Tatooine, and 30-plus years later, that love have never wavered.