Review: Your Highness Blu-ray

Your Highness Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: David Gordon Greene | CAST: Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux, Toby Jones, Rasmus Hardiker
8/9/2011 | PRICE: Blu-ray $39.98, DVD $29.98,
unrated version, commentary with video intro, featurettes, deleted and alternate scenes, gag reel; BD adds additional featurettes, extended scenes, Line-o-rama, BD Live features
R | 103 min. | Comedy adventure | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, French and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Your HighnessAccording to the commentary track on Your Highness, the movie began as a joke between star/writer Danny McBride (Due Date) and writer Ben Best (TV’s Eastbound & Down). The punch line was that the two were given the opportunity to make their $50 million stoner-ized medieval comedy movie. The final film, which includes David Gordon Greene (Pineapple Express) at the helm, is like Conan or The Beastmaster plus weed, sex and gay jokes.

But as the film grossed a disappointing $25 million at the box office, one wonders if the joke was on the filmmakers, the studio or the only nominally interested audience.

Set in a mythical medieval past populated by topless jungle women, multi-headed serpents, horny Yoda-like sages and earnest warrior Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Your Highness revolves around two royal brothers: fat, lazy stoner Prince Thadeous (Danny McBride, Due Date) and his dashing, stalwart brother Prince Fabious (James Franco, 127 Hours), who’s heir to the throne. But the two have no time for bongs and grog and are forced to spring into action after Fabious’ new bride Bella Donna (500 Days of Summers Zooey Deschanel, sporting one helluva push-up bodice) is abducted from the castle by the nasty sorcerer Leezar (Justin Theroux, Mulholland Dr.), who aims to get her pregnant and then spawn a dragon. Hmmmm…

The landscapes, special effects (which include CGI and live-action puppetry) and overall feel of all those 1980s era fantasy flicks that Your Highness is portraying (or sending up, perhaps) are where Your Highness works best. McBride and Best know and obviously adore the genre they’ve written about. And some of the jokes are raunchy and silly in all the right doses.

But for its lofty moments and all the fun everyone seems to be having, there are as many misses and dry spots. Sure, there’s no getting around the giggle factor of a properly British-accented Portman coming forth with lines like “That feeling has been burning in my beaver.” But the movie’s never all that hysterical but simply, well, giggle-worthy.

A heap of bonus materials are available on the Blu-ray, highlighted by nearly an hour of excised material in the form of deleted/extended/alternate scenes, outtakes and bloopers. The deleted scenes are all worth checking out (including a rousing song-and-dance number with Deschanel and Franco), even if the extended and alternate ones really drag on.

The outtakes, gag reel and a “Line-O-Rama” find the cast either breaking up as they’re on screen delivering their lines or offering variations of their dialog from what appeared in the script. Thus, we’re presented with a number of takes with various expressions for bodily organs and sexual activities, all of which are sillier or raunchier than the versions in the finished film. One outtake with a monstrous minotaur and Thadeous’ faithful male servant (Rasmus Hardiker) involving a prosthetic male organ and a sexual assault is so eye-openingly over-the-top that it probably couldn’t even be included in the unrated version of the film, which is also offered on the Blu-ray disc.

The unrated version, incidentally, adds an additional three minutes of dirty, bloody, violent and/or gross-out flourishes to the mix. It’s effect is minimal at best and was presumably excised to keep the film within the parameters of an R rating. In other words, it can only be so much more offensive in a movie that contains “milder” version of a minotaur/servant rape sequence.

The half-hour making-of featurette and commentary reveal a cast and crew who seem to really enjoy themselves over the course of the shoot. But, again, they definitely had more fun making a movie designed to make audiences laugh than the audience had while watching the results.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.