Your Highness: James Franco Plays It Straight

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 and with 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. Prince Thadeous (Danny McBride) resigns himself to living in the shadow of his firstborn brother, Fabious (James Franco, strapping straight-man), until wicked wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux) kidnaps Fabious' beloved Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), and Fabious drags reluctant Thadeous along on a rescue quest. The fantasy setting is selected less for genre send-up—though there is obvious relish in putting dumpy McBride into Boris Vallejo landscapes—than to license anything-goes liberation. The movie's improvisatory recklessness, however, often settles for stock, fallback comedy: scenes lazily punchlined on four-letter words, pot slang, and gay jokes offensive only in their unoriginality. The constant raunch spoofs on the horny confusion of the adolescent audience that fantasy art has traditionally catered to. In the film's opening credits, Prince Valiant–style illustrations of the characters are graffiti'd with drawn-on dicks, tits, and lit joints—like the vandalized movie posters in the subway that make the advertised products seem much more entertaining than they could ever possibly be. So through auto-defacement does Your Highness restore the heroic saga.

 
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