I wonder what Danny McBride wants to be when he grows up. More to the point, I wonder when that will be. This guy's development is so arrested that bail has been revoked.
Your Highness is McBride's latest full frontal (nudity) assault on good taste and cinema, a bawdy spoof of sword-and-sorcery flicks with jokes springing from under his codpiece. McBride co-wrote the script, apparently on a restroom wall, and handles most of the dirty stuff with such vulgar intensity that he might beat you up for not laughing.
McBride's lewd lunacy works in small doses, like his outrageous turns in Pineapple Express and the HBO sitcom Eastbound and Down. Stretched over a feature length movie, the shock quickly wears off. You begin to doubt that McBride can write a punchline not hinging on the f-word, or control his crudeness long enough to deliver a double entendre.
His enabler once again is director David Gordon Green, who deserted a future as an important American dramatist for more profitable below-the-belt comedy. "Sold out" is the term, I believe. Your Highness is drive-by directing at its laziest, linking late-night sketch ideas in a quest for comedy as difficult to locate as the Holy Grail.
McBride plays Prince Thadeous, whom we meet while he's being prepared for hanging by angry dwarfs. It turns out there are advantages to being hanged by dwarfs, specifically that they don't build scaffolds tall enough to finish the job. Thadeous escapes but his father King Tallious (Charles Dance) is happier that his handsomer, cooler son Fabious (James Franco) has returned.
Fabious brought back a surprise, the fair and fairly dim-witted damsel Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), who's immediately kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux). She's the only virgin in the kingdom, and deflowering her will give Leezar enormous power. Fabious enlists Thadeous to rescue his betrothed, and between puffs of "wizard weed" the less intrepid brother accepts.
From there, Your Highness proceeds through countless genitalia jokes, graphic dismemberments of mythical creatures, close encounters with nude nymphs, and an exhibitionist minotaur apparently named Viagra. I can't describe the kill trophy Thadeous takes away from the minotaur but it's the funniest thing in the movie, which isn't saying much.
You may wonder why Natalie Portman hasn't been mentioned yet. That's because the recent Oscar winner doesn't appear as a warrior babe until an hour into Your Highness, despite her high profile in the ad campaign. Franco likewise isn't vital to the production. It's a bait-and-switch strategy for what is essentially McBride's showcase, as Green continues to shove him down viewers' throats. McBride would have a smutty retort for that. It wouldn't be funny, either.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365.