‘Your Highness’ a low, unfunny adventure
Bartholomew Klick Copy Editor
Humor is hard to pull off, and this film proves it. Even with talent like Natalie Portman (Isabel), “Your Highness” was too one-dimensional and shallow to be truly humorous.
The concept behind the movie is simple – mock high fantasy tropes and add nudity and sex jokes. The problem is that without complex characters and depth to the humor, the concept I have described is a two-minute YouTube video, not a 102-minute movie.
I get that the film’s goal is, in part, to poke fun at one-dimensional characters and bad fantasy plots, but the movie doesn’t seem self-aware enough to realize that it has become what it was meant to parody – a cookie cutter lowbrow humor flick.
The end result is that some parts of the film feel like a high-fantasy movie, while other parts feel like a comedy. The elements don’t blend well, and the result is that some scenes seem to take the concept too seriously, while others have dropped all pretense of doing so.
For this film to be notable on any level, it would either have needed to make a much more stinging commentary about the high fantasy genre, or else have endeavored to make jokes that were at least a little deeper than having a mid-point villain’s wounded hand form the one-fingered salute, or having a character wear the severed penis of a minotaur around his neck.
Penis jokes can be hysterical, if they’ve got some depth to them, or if they offer commentary on a social truth about sex or common fear. But none of this is present here. The penises and breasts were all gratuitous, and even that would have been fine if it had also been presented in a way that didn’t expect the audience to be uncomfortable or unfamiliar with such things. (Ten-year-olds would love this movie, but they probably shouldn’t be allowed to watch it.)
And the mixed diction kept ripping me out of the movie. The characters would go from speaking normally for the fantasy genre to throwing in seemingly random and modern cuss words. It didn’t match up; why did Thaddeus (Danny McBride) cuss only when it was apparent that the filmmakers wanted to point out that some part of a scene was funny?
If a gag is funny, I’ll laugh without some on-screen cue.
And call me overly sensitive, but a few of the scenes came off as manifest homophobia, rather than humor, such as Boremont’s (Damien Lewis) death scene.
I was also unhappy with how quickly Thaddeus went from wanting to kill his brother to wanting to rescue him, and how Isabel went from a typical Amazonian heroine (chaste, tough and smart) to wanting to have sex with Thaddeus with no psychological foreplay, so to speak.
“Your Highness” does have a few redeeming qualities. For all my griping, I was never bored outright. The mechanical bird was amusing and well animated, the camera work was outstanding, and most of the sets and scenery were engaging or beautiful.
If you want to laugh at bad fantasy, though, you’re better off at the library than the movie theater.