Danny McBride stars in Your Highness, quite possibly the funniest movie of the year. This fantasy comedy co-written by McBride and Ben Best (Eastbound and Down), showcases their brand of humor in a medieval setting. Director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) has given the movie a visual style that, save the laughs at every turn, could pass for a legitimate fantasy movie. The overall effect is a hilarious send up of the genre. It may not be Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but what is?
Thadeous (Danny McBride) is the younger brother of Fabious (James Franco). They are both princes, but Thadeous is a slacker and Fabious is a heroic warrior. When the evil sorcerer Leezar (Justin Theroux) kidnaps Fabious’s bride to be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), a new quest is set in motion. Tired of his slacker son, King Tallious (Charles Dance) forces Thadeous to accompany Fabious on his quest to save Belladonna. Further complications put even more pressure on Thadeous to stop slacking and to become a respectable warrior like his brother.
Anyone who enjoys the comedy of Eastbound and Down should find themselves laughing hysterically for most of the film. The pairing of McBride and Franco works perfectly. Franco plays the straight man, setting up McBride for countless jokes. In fact, most of the other main characters play their roles in an almost serious, deadpan manner, leaving Thadeous as the main attraction for the movie’s silliness.
The movie makes no apologies for its often scatological humor, even going so far as to show a Minotaur penis. There are some things borrowed from fantasy conventions, like labyrinths (hence the Minotaur) and various plot points in the quest, but for the most part, these things don’t feel forced or uncreative. It simply feels like a fantasy movie with humor thrown in. There is even a nod to Bubo, the mechanical owl in Clash of the Titans, but whereas Bubo was annoying only to the audience, Fabious’s annoying mechanical bird companion is constantly criticized by Thadeous.
Also responsible for a good number of laughs is Thadeous’s servant Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker). A lot of the jokes revolve around his appearance, as he sports a ridiculous medieval haircut (think Rowan Atkinson in The Black Adder), which Thadeous likens to a penis. And though she doesn’t come in the movie until fairly late in the storyline, Natalie Portman effortlessly plays her role as Isabel, a tough warrior who quickly becomes a love interest to Thadeous. As Thadeous is a wannabe warrior, Isabel is constantly embarrassing him to comedic effect.
For anyone looking for a family friendly comedy, Your Highness isn’t the right movie. This isn’t Monty Python and it sure isn’t Mel Brooks. The movie unflinchingly wears its R rating. But for everyone else who enjoys this kind of humor, movies don’t come much funnier than this.