Oct 3, 2011

[Movies] Your Highness (2011)

Your Highness (2011)It's interesting how a weird cult following has formed around the person of James Franco. The current embodiment of the Renaissance man has captured the minds and hearts of many fans ranging from those who like him for his looks, his academic achievements and everything else in-between. It's crazily difficult to keep track of everything that he eventually gets into since he seems to have a near infinite amount of time for exploring new hobbies.

I can't say that I'm a true fan at this point, but I am certainly amused at the weird acting range he tends to operate in. He does comedy pretty decently, although it's all done in a manner that I suppose could be termed ironic since he's funnier when he's not consciously trying to be so. If anything, his appeal for me is how stupid he can be while still managing to hold a decent conversation. The statement is quite confusing, I know, but it's certainly a good start.

This movie truly felt like a fan service piece, especially given his success in recent years in endeavors that touch the youth more directly. His experiment with Twitter was quite a hoot and it certainly helped get him a  lot of attention and press space, both good and bad.

Your Highness is a 2011 action fantasy comedy movie distributed by Universal Studios. It was directed by David Gordon Green with a screenplay by Danny McBride and Ben Best.

Our lead characters are the sibling princes Thadeous (Danny McBride) and Fabious (James Franco), the sons of King Taillous (Charlse Dance). They two are practically night and day when compared to one another. From the get-go we see that Thadeous is a lazy, irresponsible hack with a bit of an aversion towards questing. His brother Fabious is of course the perfect prince - brave, courageous and the apple of his father's eye.

Favious' latest victory involves defeating the forces of the evil sorcerer Leezar (Justin Theroux) and rescuing the virgin maiden Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel). As is the way of such stories, Fabious and Belladonna are in love and it is decided that they are to be wed with Thadeous serving as his best man. However Lezaar disrupts the festivities and re-captures Belladonna as part of an elaborate scheme of his. Pressed into service, Thadeous ends up joining Fabious on the quest to rescue his bride together with the other knights.

Now the story is pretty much your standard fantasy fare with the slight twist of the inferiority complex cursed  brother. But what helps change things is the fact that all the dialog is the sort of fare you'd hear in a teen comedy set in some fictional college or something - you know what kind of movies I'm talking about. Thus the knights end up behaving like frat boys and there's far too much discussions about who gets to shag the girl, and so on.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing of the movie - the mix of modern humor together with the full fantasy treatment of costumes, horses and all that chivalry really worked. I suppose it's because it made the movie sound more like how a fantasy tabletop RPG ends up sounding like for real, given players are prone to switch back and forth from modern gross out humor to high fantasy role-playing. Now that I can firmly call myself a gamer as well, I found myself relating to the humor even more, thus adding to the value of the movie.

This is not to say that the humor was automatically universal in appeal - I can understand how the flow of the narrative probably turned off a lot of viewers who may have found the juxtoposition of the old and the new too weird.

Admittedly, I got a huge kick out of the good knight Boremont (Damian Lewis) acting like the jealous boyfriend throughout the movie. This was especially entertaining given the last time I had watched him on screen was probably when he played Richard Winters in the Band of Brothers. The two roles had a lot in common given they both represented martial "ideals" as it were. But then Boremont of course gets to act all petty here and there just because he wasn't allowed to be best man at the wedding despite his history of "crossing swords" with Fabious. Go figure.

SANTA BARBARA, CA - APRIL 01:  Actors Justin T...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeAnd at the same time, James Franco does oddly manage the whole gay affection card rather well, a natural trope of older fantasy stories made into modern movies. Hello LOTR, right?

Oh, and I'll admit that Natalie Portman was pretty cool as the ranger-like character Isabel. Given her challenges with convincingly depicting human emotion while in front of the camera (*cough* Phantom Menace *cough*), being the kick-ass warrior with a grudge (and thus no tolerance for female dalliances) actually worked.

The movie also had some pretty stellar special effects for your basic comedy piece. Some of the monsters were impressive enough to put other fantasy movies to shame and definitely helped with the whole feel of the movie, thus adding even more to the fun factor.

Your Highness is not your typical comedy nor your typical fantasy movie. It's fun if you appreciate both genres although it may no work out so well if you're not overly geeky. Still, on its own the movie still deserves 3.5 lines of homosexual innuendo woven into the dialog out of a possible 5.

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