mon 14/10/2019

Your Highness | reviews, news & interviews

Your Highness

Your Highness

Gross-out comes to medieval England. Here's hoping it bought a return ticket

Please will you shoot the producer, Natalie? Ms Portman in the laugh-an-hour 'Your Highness'

In the end, the media-industrial complex which takes responsibility for entertaining the planet doesn’t put your needs and mine near the top of the pile. But I think we know this already. Why am I even saying it? Saying it again. Bears make their toilet in the woods, pontiffs wave from balconies and highly remunerated people in Hollywood with popcorn for brains chair meetings the usual product of which are brazenly cheap concepts like Your Highness. Then they feed it to post-pubescents with an insatiable hunger for jokes about penises.

Your Highness takes the spirit and the ethos of the gross-out comedy and foists it on the world of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You can kind of see the thinking. The chivalric romance is ripe for ripping, as the ever-touring Spamalot has continued to suggest. Films such as Shrek and The Princess Bride and even A Knight’s Tale have productively mined the Middle Ages for comedy. But then hey, so did Chaucer. The joke is always roughly the same: the knightly code of honour rubs up against the bathetic, the ridiculous, even the squalid. There is quite a bit of that shtick in Your Highness too, in which a fat indolent preening prince called Thadeous (Danny McBride, who co-scrawled the script) envies the successful quests of his dumbly courageous, blandly handsome brother Fabious (James Franco).

But where other tourist trips to the land of medievalism more or less honour its innocence, and even affectionately buy into the apparatus of courtly morality, Your Highness is just a bunch of cock gags. Thadeous wears a severed member round his neck as a trophy. The script has also been carpet-bombed with various incarnations of the word “fuck”, so much so that it’s a limp surprise when Thadeous’s spindly servant (Rasmus Hardiker) at one point says “fart” instead. You can be a big fan of the f-word and still tire of its repeated deployment in the slot where the punchline is meant to be. The best usage is by a trio of Macbeth-like harridans, servants of the evil wizard Leezar, who are preparing Fabious’s kidnapped fiancée (Zooey Deschanel) for a “fuckening”. That’s as inventive as this film gets on the linguistics front, unless you count the title's veiled reference to inhaling botanical hallucinogens.

Your_HighnessFranco, the man of the hour in Hollywood last seen at the other end of the chart transformed into Allen Ginsberg in Howl, is not the only big name who has signed up for a laugh only to find them rationed to roughly one a reel. Natalie Portman does a trim little turn as a sharp-shooting wench in trousers who is far more macho than any of the males, while McBride's swaggering antihero completes a trio of American leads pretending to be English (pictured above, McBride and Franco). They come over here (actually those bits where they get away from the studio lot's fibreglass castellations look more like Ireland), they steal our accents and our heritage and make us yet again play the baddies: in the take-the-money-and-run parts are Damian Lewis as a handless knight, Toby Jones as a groinless eunuch and Charles Dance as an all-but-lineless king. I quite liked Justin Theroux as Leezar, though the evil genius whose wickedness is subject to postmodern deconstruction is becoming a wearisome trope. David Gordon Green directs. There are some CGI monsters, some dwarves, some breasts, some references to deviant sex. Just not many jokes. I'm going to cleanse myself with some proper fuck-and-fart gags in The Canterbury Tales.


MORE NATALIE PORTMAN ON THEARTSDESK

Brothers (2010). Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal duke it out on the domestic battlefield

Black Swan (2011). OTT, Grand Guignol, horrid, and hilariously enjoyable - it's ballet, up to a point

No Strings Attached (2011). Natalie Portman isn't the only girl to swoon over cute Ashton Kutcher

Thor (2011). 3D graphics and 2D gods: Marvel's version of Norse myth is best when earthbound

Knight of Cups (2016). Terrence Malick's first movie shot in LA is a star-studded disappointment

Jackie (2017). One brief shining moment that was known as Camelot: how the Kennedy legacy was born

 

Watch the trailer to Your Highness

You can be a big fan of the f-word and still tire of its repeated deployment in the slot where the punchline is meant to be

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