GENRE: Fantasy farce
THE PITCH: In one of the "legends of olde," nasty wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux) kidnaps the betrothed (Zooey Deschanel) of dashing Prince Fabious (James Franco), who goes on a quest to rescue her with his weed-smoking, wench-chasing, jealous brother Thadeous (co-writer Danny McBride).
MONEY SHOTS: Thadeous survives a dwarf kingdom execution attempt thanks to an error in scale. Fabious and Thadeous visit a Yoda-like sage who sports a catfish mouth, a jellyfish brain and kinky appetites. A pervy warlord uses his hand to magically control a five-headed hydra in an battle to the death. Best Actress Oscar winner Natalie Portman looks great in the Keira Knightley-in-King Arthur role. Stock fantasy elements like three electricity-blasting witches and a dark, twisty labyrinth prove at once silly and exciting.
BEST LINE: "If you want me to go on a quest, let's start with something easier, like boiling a chicken or beating off in front of a peasant," Thadeous protests when his father sends him on the dangerous quest.
MOST TYPICAL LINE: "Behold, the head of Leezar's mighty Cyclops! Fuck yeah!" Your Highness gets a lot of mileage out of dropping f-bombs in a Renaissance Faire setting.
GROSSEST LINE: When Fabious warns Thadeous that a scantily clad nymph might be leading him into a trap, Thaddeus scoffs, "The only thing those tits will trap is my warm spray."
BODY COUNT: About 15, along with multiple stabbings and bloody, severed limbs that are probably fatal. One bit of swordplay puts the "member" in "dismemberment."
FLESH FACTOR: Some bathing beauties in the opening credits. Nude, anatomically incorrect Toby Jones. Portman in a g-string. An ambush by lots of topless warrior women. Also, if you're squeamish about the prospect of seeing Minotaur cock, this might not be the movie for you.
FASHION STATEMENTS: The make-believe fantasy kingdom includes knight-and-peasant garb from feudal England, powdered wigs and whiteface worthy of Restoration-era fops and the occasional Mongol horde. The night before his wedding, Fabious dons tights and an oversized codpiece. A sequel just might hinge on a chastity belt.
DRUG HUMOR: Thadeous and friends (including an unremaked-upon goat man) fire up the herb about four times. Leezar reveals his evil ways by tearing the wings off a fairy creature, grinding it up and snorting it.
TITLE FAIL: The cartoonish opening credits haphazardly reveal the misadventures of Thadeous and his squire Courtney ("Saxondale's" Rasmus Hardiker), but the addition of graffiti and half-legible dialogue make it a muddle.
SOUNDTRACK HIGHLIGHTS: Part-time rock singer Deschanel sings her wedding vows with Franco, who either croons intentionally terribly or maybe can't do everything.
WELL, IT WORKS FOR CHRISTOPHER GUEST: While McBride and his "Eastbound & Down" co-creator Ben Best wrote the film, Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green says that no script was used on set and the dialogue was heavily improvised. That might explain why many scenes and comic ideas never seem to pay off.
YE OLDE BOTTOM LINE: As a madcap medieval comedy, Your Highness feels sluggish and underwritten compared to the likes of "Blackadder" or Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But verily, the Apatow-level of raunch provides plenty of laughs all the way through, and Your Highness feels like an overdue parody of the archetypal hero stories that have overrun contemporary Hollywood, from Tangled to Clash of the Titans. Huzzah!
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