Your Highness

How Danny McBride and James Franco Saved The Princess (and the Movie Business)

//

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ 1/2   out of   ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

 

Sometime after the brave “knights ‘a questin'” are captured, hauled into a giant wicker pit, then forced to battle their captor’s greatest warrior… the evil, strangely-special-looking medicine man (surrounded by crowds of threatening warrior-women, topless of course), sticks his hand into a “cauldron” of mustard. Suddenly a giant five-headed snake hand erupts from the ground and menaces our heroes with razor-sharp fangs and venom that melts the flesh from bones.

It wasn’t this scene alone that made me realize I was watching possibly the greatest movie ever made, but by this point my stomach and my face hurt from laughing. From the opening scene, the medieval-action/romance/stoner-comedy Your Highness, starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Zooey Deschanel, and Natalie Portman, amongst others, is a rip-roaring adventure that will keep you in stitches. Believe me when I say, these guys are plowing through more weed than a tanker full of Roundup the entire time. With echoes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail going on here, Your Highness is a perfect blend of humor, action, and low-brow comedy.

Director David Gordon Green, who previously directed McBride and Franco in the buddy-action/stoner-comedy Pineapple Express, is running all cylinders here. While Pineapple Express might have hit a few bumps in the road, this time around the mix is perfect… and it’s mostly due to Danny McBride. The man is a genius in a curly mullet, he commands laughs merely by walking on screen and delivers lines so dead-pan you could fry a dead-egg. Did I mention his character in the movie is completely unlikable for the first 3/4 of the movie? In fact, that might be the film’s only fault. That there came a point in which I actually wanted something bad to happen to him. Director Green must have intended this because not a few minutes later, a giant, Minotaur (let’s just say his name could be “Randy”)scene turns everything around for a fantastic 3rd act.

I really can’t give too much of the plot away, because it will begin to sound like a movie that you won’t want to go see. So let’s just say it’s a spoof, a really, really well done spoof. Green and Co. tread a fine line here, where on either side lay the wastes of lesser-movies’ attempts at pulling this kind of funny off. Where only Men in Tights and Princess Bride have gone, many a Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey’s, Cabin Boy’s and Black Knight’s have failed.

“It has been handed down throughout Hollywood’s history, a prophecy where every generation is bestowed a brilliant comedy with dragons, witches, and hero’s quests. That prophecy has been fulfilled this era with Your Highness.” In a far-away land, prince Thadeous (McBride) laments his life-long curse of living in his brother Fabious’s (Franco) shadow. Fabious is ever-questing, bringing home riches and tales of danger with his band of merry men. When Fabious returns from his latest quest, he tells of slaying the dreaded sorcerer Leezar’s (played fantastically by Justin Theroux) latest magic-beast, and pulls a cyclops’ head from his belongings. He also tells the tale of rescuing fair Belladonna (Deschanel) from a far-away tower, where she has been held captive by Leezar (who plans to impregnate her with a dragon on the night of the two-moon eclipse, once again, of course).

When Fabious and Belladonna ready to marry, Leezar appears and tells of his evil plans for the virgin girl. He snatches her away, “using, MAGIC!” (as he likes to say), and returns her to the tower. Fabious and Thadeous leave immediately to save her, this being Thadeous’s first quest and last chance to redeem himself as a man in the eyes of his father, his brother, and his kingdom. Cut to McBride and his squire Courtney riding in a carriage complaining about the traveling conditions and whether they would be bored out of their minds on this quest. Thadeous’s only plan, in fact, is “to get thoroughly f*ed up.” Whether or not such “sticky-icky” existed in medieval times isn’t the point, certainly their foul-mouths aren’t historically accurate either- but I was giggling non-stop… because it’s just plain funny.

I went to see Your Highness at the Cinemark 17 in Springfield, mainly because it’s a perfectly fine theater, and because they show first-run movies for over $2.00 cheaper than Regal Cinemas. I’m not sure how long Cinemark will be able to keep this up, but I know I’m not the only one who is extremely happy they are, and I intend to keep returning. (As long as they keep their prices down, otherwise, sorry Springfield).

In closing, Your Highness is one of the better medieval stoner-comedies I’ve seen, well, ever… and James Franco’s performance alone in this movie made it a great flick for me. Pile the gorgeous Natalie Portman, buxom Zooey Deschanel, and hilarious Danny McBride, plus the best special effects this side of an episode of Xeena: Warrior Princess, and you’ve got the perfect Sunday morning mimosas movie. Have a great week, and stay classy Eugene.

New Releases for Friday 4/8

//

Welcome to the weekend Eugeneans! Can you feel the excitement of the Spring Movie Season? It’s anybody’s game at the box office this weekend with sleeper-hit-movie possibilities abound. With 5 (count ’em 5!) new movies premiering in local theaters today, what will be this year’s Diary Of A Wimpy Kid? Maybe the sequel?

First up we’ve got the remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore classic, Arthur. This time around the insanely funny Russell Brand (on his way up to super-stardom I see? Not enough that you’re married to Katy Perry is it pal?) plays Arthur- a billionaire lush with a penchant for tomfoolery. This time around, with an updated script, Arthur’s drinking gets more of the spotlight. The scene with Russell Brand (as Arthur) is sitting in an AA meeting with a huge fake beard, and introduces himself as Gandalf… funny stuff. Arthur seems to be quite a bit more laugh-out-loud than the original, at the sacrifice of the quality of the movie as a whole. Arthur is rated PG-13 for alcohol use throughout, sexual content, language and some drug references.

Also we’ve got the IMAX-Exclusive Born to be Wild 3D playing at Valley River’s IMAX theater. Born to be Wild 3D is a documentary that follows various apes, elephants, and other African wildlife. My daughter is absolutely dying to see this movie, and as much as IMAX costs, it looks like it might be worth it. Born to be Wild 3D is rated G for everyone.

Next up is the inspiring true story of Bethany Hamilton, a world-class surfer who at 13 lost her arm at the shoulder to a Tiger Shark. Her experience, struggle, and victory are chronicled in the new movie Soul Surfer starring Anna Sophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, and Helen Hunt. Bethany Hamilton overcame incredible odds to learn how to live and how to surf all over again… and proves the might of the human spirit. Soul Surfer is rated PG for an intense accident sequence and some thematic material.

What could shape up to be the sleeper-hit of the season is a movie getting more buzz than a bee hiveHanna. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, and Cate Blanchett, Hanna is the tale of a 16-year-old assassin who is sent on a complicated mission across Europe to take out a notorious intelligence operative. Raised at home and taught by her father, Hanna is what would happen if Jason Bourne had a daughter. Played without fear by Saoirse (pronounced say-or-say I believe), who starred in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lovely Bones, this thriller looks like a must-see. Hanna is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual material and language.

Last but certainly not least is Your Highness, by David Gordon Green and Danny McBride. The team behind HBO’s Eastbound and Down and the brilliant Pineapple Express, brings us a stoner-comedy set in a fantasy-Dungeons-n-Dragons-movie. If that’s not enough to get you to go then we need to have a serious talk about what’s funny and what is not. Danny McBride, James Franco, and Academy Award Winner Natalie Portman quest to rescue the fair maiden, and plow through more weed than a tanker full of RoundUp. Your Highness looks hilarious, and is rated R for strong crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity, violence and some drug use.

That’s it for Toomb’s New Releases this week, stay tuned for more and have a great weekend Eugene!