A silly joke told once is funny. A silly joke told repeatedly, serving as the basis for a 102-minute, $50-million movie is not. “Your Highness” is that joke. It’s a juvenile premise: Two brothers, one a brave prince and the other a lazy stoner, go on a quest to rescue the prince’s fiancee from the clutches of an evil wizard. Basically, penis and weed jokes in the setting of a medieval adventure. But given the comedic talent behind “Your Highness”, I expected much more.
You have James Franco and Natalie Portman in the cast, who gave the best male and female performances of last year. It’s helmed by David Gordon Green, whose plunge from art-house-respectability (“George Washington”) to low-brow comedy (“Pineapple Express”) has been a thing of both beauty and sadness. The cherry on top is the fact that it stars Danny McBride, whose comic cocktail of cynicism and aloofness has been insanely fun to watch in his work.
But alas, “Your Highness” doesn’t click. It’s due to both the repetitive nature of the humor and the lack of enthusiasm with which the humor is executed. I’d blame the script, but since reportedly the movie was mostly improvised, I suppose the blame goes onto the performers. Is it because they realized the limited comedic potential and gave up? It’s possible, probable even. There’s honestly such little life in any of these people’s performances, which given my adoration for Portman (and man-crush on Franco) totally sucks to see.
Danny McBride is actually totally game here, bringing the requisite level of goofiness when no one else really bothered. He occasionally delivers a one-liner that totally floored me with laughter, serving as something of a tease of what could have been.
And that’s really all that “Your Highness” is: A lazily constructed tease, that’s frustrating not just because of how far from entertaining it is, but because it constantly reminds you of how much better it could have been. D