Total Pageviews

Monday, April 11, 2011

Your Highness (Release Date: 4-8-2011)

        People love to explain perplexing things in irrational ways. Why else would knocking on wood be such a well-known custom? Is there any real logic in believing that having traded away Babe Ruth way-back-when damned the Red Sox to decades of futility? It's much easier to make up some elaborate excuse for why something golden has gone awry, and people are already doing just that in the case of Natalie Portman's post-oscar slump. In the months since we met the deranged, obsessive and infantile Nina Sayers, Portman's name has been listed above No Strings Attached, a completely mediocre/forgettable/disposable (if not exactly deplorable) rom-com, and The Other Woman, a melodramatic piece that few have heard of, and fewer have seen. Your Highness marks her third attempt to bring something decent to the silver screen since her big break-through, and with disgraced Oscar host James Franco at her side, one has to like her odds.

        Despite being the biggest names above the marquee, neither Portman nor Franco serve as the protagonist. That billing belongs to Danny McBride, who stars as Thadeous, a lay-about, pot smoking brut of a prince in a generic medieval setting. While Thadeous sets his sights on absolutely nothing, his brother Fabious (Franco) roams the countryside, conquering and do-gooding wherever he hears the call. As the movie opens, Fabious has just returned with his newly rescued bride-to-be, the beautiful and completely oblivious Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel). But just as the two are to wed, a merciless wizard (Justin Theroux) storms the ceremony and kidnaps Belladonna, prompting Fabious and a reluctant Thadeous to give chase. Along the way, they encounter Portman's standard tough-girl, and the three get their quest on, rauncey-comedy style.

        The ingredients here are sublime: Director David Gordon Green gave his last stoner comedy, Pineapple Express, a loose, improvised feel that really defined the movie. Writers McBride and Ben Best have had their undeniable moments as the primary scribes on TV's Eastbound and Down. The cast is talented, funny, and impossibly kind on the eyes. As it turns out, however, next to nothing in Your Highness is functional at all. Sure, the first ten minutes are able to tickle a funny-bone or two, the mixture of knowingly awful british accents and f-bombs saddled alongside archaic speak proving passable for a short stretch. But that's it: jokes intentionally stupid or limitlessly crass appear to be the only two that McBride and Best were aware of when they wrote the screenplay, the unfathomable laziness of which has Razzie written all over it. As an SNL sketch, this might have been funny before sagging a bit before they wrapped it up. Now just imagine how that expands over an entire feature-length film.

        Here's what's good about Your Highness: Gordon Green and camera man Tim Orr are apt at creating appealing visuals, moments of the crew's journey providing passable eye-candy. Speaking of which, Portman, Franco, and Deschanel are all ten-out-of-ten gorgeous, and looking at their pretty faces can sometimes make one forget just how lousy the product that they're hawking is. But the virtually laugh-less crowded auditorium that I saw this one in said it all. If you were wondering why the ad campaign was so insistent and showing you the shot of Portman in a thong, it's because that second-long moment is, purely objectively, at least seven-times better than anything else that transpires during the movie's runtime. It's understandable wanting to see this one despite its critical abandonment, but if you value the paper in your wallet or the brain cells in your head, I implore to choose a different movie. Even Mars Needs Moms would prove a FAR better choice, and yes, that is speaking from experience. I understand that Your Highness was trying for the so-bad-its-good designation, but in each and every single one of its efforts, it proves a far greater imitator than satirist. A funny thing happens when you try to make a bad movie: You succeed.

Grade: D-

No comments:

Post a Comment