Today I'm going to sing the praises of a movie that was universally panned, bashed by critics, a financial failure, and was quickly forgotten after its release in 2011. Your Highness.
Even the writers and actors (Danny McBride and James Franco) made fun of their film in This Is The End, joking that even though it was the end of the world they wouldn't make a sequel. I would KILL for a sequel! Nay, I would SLAY for a sequel!
I hold the firm belief that movie reviewers need to remove their heads from their arses and lighten up a bit. In the case of Your Highness, not only do they need to lighten up and enjoy comedy for the sake of comedy, but they got it wrong when they rated it poorly, because I'm here to tell you that this flop has all the elements of a legit enjoyable fantasy film. I hate when movies are disregarded simply because they're silly. Yes, it's silly, but it's more than that.
The story might not be entirely original (man on a quest to save woman held captive in a tower), but it does throw in some unique elements like the loser tag-along prince, and the eclipse that shall culminate in "the Fuckening" during which the evil wizard will inseminate a virgin who will then birth a dragon. Come on now. The Fuckening. That's funny.
Costumes, Props, Production Design
In my opinion (which is worth absolutely dick-all) this movie is on point with all three of these important components of a fantasy film. This one boasts gorgeous renaissance-esque gowns, full suits of armor, and some very regal court attire complete with powdered wigs.
The sound stage sets are just as impressive. For example, our heroes stumble into the territory of one of the film's villains, and his gladiator-style arena is extraordinary. Someone built that shit. Credit where credit is due!
Baddies, Creatures, and Characters
No fantasy film is complete without some creature creations, monsters, original villains, what have you. Your Highness is replete with these kinds of characters and they are extremely well done.
Firstly, we have Simon, Prince Fabious' mechanical animal companion. I didn't know that was even a thing, but I love it anyway. He crows and caws and saves the day. SPOILER - he gets smashed and I cry.
|I want one.|
Next up is the disgusting baby-man Marteetee with his oddly deep voice. Marteetee is a diaper-clad villain who loves topless chicks and making trespassers fight to the death against his monster.
|Your diaper makes me uncomfortable, Marteetee. But I laugh all the same.|
Personally, I thought this baddie was completely original, and the effect well executed. To summon his five-headed serpent, Marteetee sticks his hand into a cauldron full of orange goo, and out pops his monster in the arena.
|These fuckers are legitimately terrifying! "I can't suck my own venom!"|
We also have the Wize Wizard. Although his scene involves child molestation references (the only part of the film I found unappealing, aside from Natalie Portman's over the top, inconsistent, and distracting English accent), it still gets mad props for the use of a Muppet-like character, which in and of itself is a nod to other fantasy films like Labyrinth.
The Wize Wizard is a combination of puppet and CGI in a really cool way. Digital fist bump to the designers of this guy. He creeps me the fuck out and I think that's what you were going for. Well done.
|He'll invite you to smoke his magic herbs with him.|
Here we have the minotaur (attending the film's red carpet opening), a classic element in any fantasy film. But, you see, Your Highness makes it its own by making him a horny fucker who's actually quite well-endowed. This is where critics get all up in arms because, for them, dick and fart jokes aren't funny. WRONG. They are.
|I feel weird looking at this.|
There's a scene of comedic gold when Prince Thadeous wants to take a trophy from his first kill, just as he'd seen his brother do with a cyclops, but can't seem to sever the horn. So he ends up toting around a much less tasteful souvenir.
|Go easy on him. He's new at questing.|
The main Nasty in Your Highness is the evil wizard Leezar, played brilliantly by Justin Theroux. His costumes are incredible, and his wizard staff is one of the coolest fantasy props out there. Props to the propmaker.
His makeup and hair are so killer that we forget that the actor underneath is actually super duper attractive.
|Look at that staff! Looks like it could black magic the shit out of you!|
Not only does Theroux look awesome in character (and his accent is perf), but he plays it in the creepiest way possible.
Fight Scenes, Action Sequences, and Special Effects
Action is a staple for a fantasy film, and Your Highness has lots of it. James Franco studied swordplay for months in order to play the dashing Prince Fabious, which was a huge investment in a film he ended up hating.
To paraphrase The Princess Bride, this movie has fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, monsters, chases, escapes, and true love. It has action beats at all the right times, whether it be a carriage chase and escape, an unfortunate encounter with a minotaur, or a good old fashioned magic fight, you won't be bored.
And the special effects to go along with the magical elements don't disappoint. This movie had a real budget!
For mostly improvised dialogue, this film is incredibly clever. Not to mention its incorporation of terms like fuck, jack shit, and motherfucker which appeal to me as a fan of vulgarity.
Most important to remember is that this film is a spoof! It's a satire of the fantasy genre! They successfully and hilariously mock tropes like the virginal damsel in a tower, the handsome prince whose life is nothing but quests, the evil wizard who threatens a peaceful kingdom, prophecies, dragons, etc.
So don't take Your Highness so seriously, but I'm asking you to not to dismiss it as crap and try to view it as a legitimate fantasy movie. We should be even more impressed that, in spoofing a genre, it managed to make a genuine contribution to it. And that contribution is a new comedic spin that has been missing in the fantasy world. The film asks fantasy fans to lighten up a little. It doesn't always have to be Mount Doom and gloom. (See what I did there?)
There are laugh out loud moments at every turn, exciting action sequences, a not-to-be-taken-seriously romance, and magic, motherfucker! What more do you want?!
The bottom line is this: Fuck the haters and don't believe the critics without seeing it for yourself! And hell, even if you've seen it before and didn't think much of it, I ask you to watch it again with an open mind.
This movie deserves more recognition and praise than it got, and I submit this blog post as my small contribution to boosting its reputation.