Your Highness plays like a dirty-joke blooper reel made by the cast of a junky sword-and-sorcery epic, streaked with carelessly contemporary-sounding blue humor, blunt profanity replacing the naughty-naughty, tankard-sloshing, heaving-bosom ribaldry that goes with the period setting.
The scene: a generic medieval realm from an EverQuest or Forgotten Realms module. In a kingdom beneath two moons, where everyone attempts English accents when they remember to, Prince Thadeous (Danny McBride) resigns himself to live in the shadow of his firstborn brother, Fabious (James Franco, strapping straight-man). In Goofus and Gallant style, as Thadeous loafs and tokes, Fabious returns flecked with gore and glory from his latest quest, having freed a bride-to-be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), from fairy-tale captivity.
When wicked wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux) re-kidnaps Belladonna,
planning to force her into ritual breeding, Fabious drags reluctant
Thadeous along on a rescue mission. The party is eventually rounded out
by Rasmus Hardiker as Thadeous's valet and Natalie Portman, in easily
her greatest role as a vengeance-lusty ranger.
One giddy sequence starts with Thadeous mocking Fabious's anxiety about
his bride's endangered maidenhead--as in All the Real Girls, the plot
hinges on Deschanel's intact virginity--when they're suddenly surrounded
by nude, mud-daubed warrior nymphs from the sleeve of the Slits' Cut;
they drag the captive heroes into a primitive coliseum presided over by
an infantilized chieftain with a spit curl squiggle down his forehead
who wields a hand-puppet hydra.
But such unobstructed, whooping, and wheeling free association isn't the
rule. The movie's improvisatory recklessness often relies on stock,
fallback comedy: scenes lazily punchlined on four-letter words, pot
slang, and gay jokes only offensive in their unoriginality.
The constant raunch in Your Highness spoofs on the horny confusion of
the adolescent audience that fantasy art has traditionally catered to. A
climactic battle royale rages around Leezar's performance
anxiety--Theroux plays the wizard with very funny insidious skeeviness,
like a dirty kid bluffing at experience. Much mileage is elsewhere got
from a Minotaur dong, while the last laugh makes it very clear that the
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grail of every magical adventure is actual sex (after which most folks
ditch their Dungeon Master's Guide).