Friday, 16 December 2011



Kids ruin everything. More precisely, teenagers ruin everything. Specifically, the teenage demographic in multiplex cinema and film-making has put the tin hat on the concept of adult (as in grown-up rather than porny) entertainment. With the overwhelming majority of films released targeted at people under 25, intelligence and wit and cleverness will always be outnumbered by vulgarity and rude words and tits. It's no longer adult in the sense that it's aimed at adults, it's merely adult in the sense that it's not for kids. The 15 certificate doesn't signify anything beyond the unsuitability for 12-year-olds, and perversely, the endless references to knobs and tits and miscellaneous sexual weirdness is childish rather than mature. It's significant that the critical quote emblazoned on the front of the DVD box, claiming it to be The Funniest Movie Of the Year, is from Nuts magazine.

In days of old, when knights were bold, there was the handsome Prince Fabious (James Franco), forever on noble quests to slay wizards and cyclops; and his idle brother Prince Thadeous (Danny McBride), concerned only with sex and loafing around enjoying himself. But Fabious' virginal simpleton bride Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) is abducted before the wedding by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux), and the two brothers and their companions must rescue her before the eclipse of the two moons that will mark the conception of a dragon with which Leezar will rule the world (or something). Also along for the ride is vengeful Natalie Portman, but might there be a traitor in their midst?

Essentially Your Highness is Carry On Questing. Or Onan The Barbarian. Or Monty Python And The Holy Krull. Or indeed Hawk The Stoner (the word Highness having a double meaning, haha). But what it's most reminiscent of is The Black Adder: the first series where Edmund was a cowardly, obnoxious idiot (McBride even has a hapless sidekick accompanying him), and for all the period detail and generous budget (by BBC standards), it wasn't massively funny. On one level this movie is amiable knockabout nonsense with good production values, some decent effects (albeit mostly CGI) and an all-star cast that also includes Charles Dance, Damian Lewis and Toby Jones. But the steady flow of sweary gags about willies, bums, tits, bestiality and wanking gets tiresome after a while. Nor is it explained why almost everyone is putting on an English accent when - bearing in mind the eclipse of the two moons - the movie isn't even set on this planet.

Much of the movie was clearly improvised - see the extras on the DVD - by just leaving the camera running while the principals make up a dozen slight variations of the scene, and then picking the dirtiest version and not the funniest. McBride makes for a charmless lead - granted, on one level the character is supposed to be charmless, but surely the hero should not be so charmless that you genuinely don't want to spend any time looking at him? The same problem beset McBride and director David Gordon Green's earlier, generally terrible, Pineapple Express. Here we also get a lot of casual F-bombs as well which don't sit well against the medieval setting but they've have been put in because it's supposedly funny. Clearly they were having a ball making it but it just doesn't translate.


Verily, forsooth, penis:

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