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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