Thursday, April 28, 2011
YOUR HIGHNESS: HALF BAKED
"From the director of Pineapple Express". That's all I needed. Then throw in written by Danny McBride and starring Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel, and expectations were sky high. But McBride and director buddy David Gordon Green's surprisingly high-budget stoner-comedy-meets-Lord-of-the-Rings fantasy saga never really delivers.
As far as plot goes, it's a classic Boromir/Faramir dynamic, with James Franco playing the dashing, monster-slaying Boromir brother Fabious to McBride's lazy, under-achieving, stoner brother Thadeous. Fabious returns to the kingdom from another heroic weekend away cyclops killing and announces that he plans to marry virginal girlfriend Belladonna (Deschanel).
Then evil sorcerer Leezar arrives, kidnaps Belladonna, takes her off to rape her in the moonlight and it's up to Fabious and first-time-quester Thadeous to storm Leezar's castle and save the day. That's about it, really.
The problem is, as much as you like them, Franco and McBride just aren't lead actors. Pineapple Express works because Seth Rogan is a lead actor. And his more deadpan performance anchors McBride and Franco, making their bumbling stoner goofiness funnier and more memorable. Your Highness is like watching two sidekicks duking it out for the lead. And of course, you can't discount Judd Apatow's absence as well.
There are a few memorable moments. Like the scene where Fabious holds up a severed cyclops head and someone in the crowd shouts, "Fuck yeah!" Then there's Thadeous' minotaur dick trophy necklace. And of course, Natale Portman in a medieval g-string's worth the ticket price alone. But overall, Your Highness is pretty disappointing.
Unlike Pineapple Express, this time, Green and McBride's genre bending, chronic-infused comedy just isn't slick enough. The writing's not as good. The jokes are borderline creepy. The characters aren't as legendary or quotable. And instead of another stoner classic, it's just okay, mildly-amusing, not bad... Like Bill & Ted's Medieval Adventure with a frontal lobotomy... It's like comparing Land of the Lost to Anchorman. You know what I mean.