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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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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.

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