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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Your Highness

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Audiences won't have to consult Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage -- the standard British reference work on all things royal and aristocratic -- to recognize that the comedy "Your Highness" (Universal) might more aptly be styled "Your Lowness." That's because the humor in this sophomoric send-up of medieval swashbucklers has more to do with locker rooms than with Robin of Locksley and his ilk.

Director David Gordon Green's smirking spoof follows the quest of a gallant prince, Fabious (James Franco), to rescue his bride-to-be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), from the clutches of Leezar (Justin Theroux), the evil wizard who kidnapped her in the midst of their nuptials. Accompanying Fabious on this adventure is his ne'er-do-well younger brother, Prince Thadeous (Danny McBride, who also co-wrote).

The journey affords Thadeous the chance to better himself—and there's plenty of room for improvement, given that he starts out as lazy, self-centered and thoroughly envious of his elder sibling's achievements. Thadeous also gets a shot at romance after he and Fabious cross paths with Isabel (Natalie Portman), a freebooting warrior with a mission—and an agenda—of her own.

Though Thadeous' jealousy of his brother is eventually shown to be mixed with fraternal affection, this is hardly a salute to family unity or a heartwarming conversion story. Instead, the formulaic plot is made a vehicle for repeated variations on the supposed joke of "olde tyme" characters inhaling pot and exhaling murky clouds of foul language.

As for the (by now) seemingly inevitable descent into gross-out humor, the gag here involves the severed private parts of a Minotaur which Thadeous wears around his neck as a trophy after his successful combat with the creature.

In the race to mark the nadir of this project's bad taste, however, that queasy sight is easily overtaken by a few quips about child sexual abuse that McBride and his collaborator, Ben Best, ill-advisedly include in their script.

The film contains strong sexual content, including full nudity and masturbation, drug use, pervasive sexual humor, a couple of uses of profanity, close to 50 instances of rough language as well as many crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R— restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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