Thursday, June 23, 2011

Your Highness

Victorious Brothers

This comedy of a film to the medieval fantasy action adventure genre is something that Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer could probably never get it in their lifetime with their track record of horrible films trying to pass off as funny, taking well established formula and stereotypes from the genre and turning them all over their heads for a laugh, which worked a lot of the time and surprisingly was way better than expected.

There are many sprawling elements here that make up the narrative, from character or caricature examination to the nature of a quest movie to find a hidden artifact, kill the villain and rescue the damsel, while swashbuckling the way through countless of villains through the combination of brawn and magic. There's blind romance, lust, betrayals, squires that bootlick all the way, mechanical birds, and of course the villains such as the Cyclops and the Minotaur, the latter few items taking a huge leaf from the classic film of Clash of the Titans (especially in that original 80x film).

Danny McBride and James Franco star as Thadeous and Fabious, two princes of royal blood who cannot be more than opposite with their attitude and achievements, with Thadeous being the gross underachiever compared to Fabious' alpha-male tendencies. In his latest quest, Fabious returns with a bride to be only for the evil warlock Leezar (Justin Theroux) to come steal her away for deflowering under the eclipse of two moons, and it's up to our merry men, and their entourage consisting the likes of court jester Julie (Toby Jones) to go on a quest to seek out mythical, perverted sages, retrieve powerful weapons and ally with equally skilled exponents like Isabel (Natalie Portman) the warrior woman who is also on a quest with common objectives.

What just worked is the casting which had many play against type, and James Franco fans listen up. I've not seen him in any role like this one where he sheds his serious alpha-male exterior for something of a flamboyant beefcake with a penchant for the rough and tumble to protect his father's kingdom. Then there's Zooey Deschanel as the evergreen go-to lass, now required to play her role of Belladonna with child like imagination since her character is modelled after Rapunzel sans long hair, being kept captive in a tower so as to fulfill an evil prophecy. Natalie Portman only had a minor role here, entering the fray midway though contributing no less with new found physicality and an insane parting shot, while Danny McBride co-writes and stars as the grouchy slouch Thadeous who is in a desperate need for money to sustain the lifestyle he's leading, not that he's very bright to begin with, but I suppose being born into the right family means connections as we see from his dealings with various enemies of the state.

Be warned though that Your Highness has plenty of raunchy jokes, and nasty visual sight gags from hand jobs to the blatant display of genitalia, or the lack thereof. Almost everyone has sex on their minds, from the above mentioned prophecy involving mating with a virgin to herald the birth of a dragon, to slicing off a creature's wiener as a wearable trophy, are but some of the really inane, crack me up situations. Everyone's not taking their roles seriously and are really hamming it all up, spewing lines that aren't scripted but were largely improvised, making this quite the romp of a medieval story filled with many modern day sensibilities, and swearing, loads of it.

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